Two Poems • Clyde Kessler

My Own Time Warp

I went home before I was born
to hear the old bootleggers run their brew
past my great grandmother, who stared
like an empty cellar’s key or like a splayed lock
with the metal re-welded and hooked for an eye.
They didn’t dare, and I didn’t, even if I became a leaf
that slipped across smoke, a century late, and invisible.

I heard their wagon creaking on a bridge against the sky.
It was a roughed-up road with nobody sober, rolling away.
An owl was whinnying off like a wildcat tethered to a ghost.
Frogs scooped their mating noise from March-melt snow
and moonlight snuck down through the alder leaf-buds.
Everybody was leaning against willows way too stoned
to remember me, since I was a future they hanged clouds on.
And they were just a steep mountain’s pioneer’s grand-babies.
They were folks already aged away with no words.


New Year's Eve At the Shark Bar

We dance at The Shark Bar tonight
where one face melts many old men
who killed a mako, or a hammerhead,
and thus woke our legends into whiskey.

A Korean voice croons with a drum
that we rolled off a bootlegger’s boat
for the New Year. The shark sign fell
into the inlet, but we still sing dark fins
knifing the waves. And somebody might
knife you with our songs, if you’re sober.

And I might follow you to the roof
if you think counting meteors makes a wish
from a fire. I’ll trust a shark tooth necklace,
serrated and sharp with its ancient force.
We dance if you dance. We drink all night.
The sun doesn’t catch another shark’s eyes.