Monday Jun 24

NessetKirk Kirk Nesset is author of two books of short stories, Paradise Road (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007) and Mr. Agreeable (Mammoth Books, 2009) ,  as well as a book of translations, Alphabet of the World (University of Oklahoma Press), and a nonfiction study, The Stories of Raymond Carver (Ohio University Press, 1995).  His books of poems, Saint X (Lewis Clark Press), is forthcoming.  He is recipient of the Drue Heinz Prize in Literature, a Pushcart Prize, and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  His stories, poems and translations have appeared in The Paris Review, Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Agni, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere.  He teaches creative writing and literature at Allegheny College.



Rope Swing

Pull the bottom knot up
over mud and rock in the whir
of cicadas, crows calling
down canyon, the river
admitting no pause—
grip an upper knot,
tipping back, kick a wide arc
over the cognizant green, release
and explode—or pivot-jerk
forward, jackknifing in.
Travel east on a whim.
Exit on Grant, proceed north
toward the invisible mountains.
Meet the friend you don’t meet
anymore; comfort the friend,
skirting the river; broadside
the awkward with humor.
Steal what you will
to feel full, less rattled by
what gives you pause—by misstep
and murmur in the daily unravel,
the whirring less labored
as night settles in.





When the world sees us as one
there will be offers of kidneys, gifts
of money and drugs.  A surviving
sister will donate a skull, quaintly
untouched by la petite mortgage
or thought and mud; others
will unveil puzzles, hills of blue
chips and drills and divestitures,
switches intermittently flicked—
the last of the broken gray shingles
gone and wagons of gravel
and tear-stained mulberry
Nietzsche will reign for an hour,
and Leibniz and Bach.  And all
will pause, and all will rescind,
pleased and yet stunned
to see souls so attuned.
We’re not mosaics, or tangles
of rope, parts prone to disasters
of autoimmune.  Our home, as
before, is warm air.  Our walls,
walls that they are—air also—
are sandalwood-tinged.  And
thunder is thunder, and flux
flux, the caressing touch in this
raining of petals the ambiguous
measure of wind.