A Selection of Poems
Ken Chamlee

jetstream 2.jpg

Poetry from collections


The jet stream dipped down like a gourd,

ladling away summer, putting out fireflies

and spilling the language of barriers:

trough, ridge, pressure.


Though it makes no sense to say

the weather is wrong or

out of sorts, we insist on tying

common rags to the tail of its numinous kite:

outburst, rage, calm.

A high cloud like a cold morning word,

followed by an arid week of silence.


Still, the weather feels strange today,

sleet ticking my nylon jacket as I

range the same miles of field and woods

I do almost every day, no matter.

Seventy degrees yesterday, and a sky as blank


as the green screen behind a weatherman,

figures ghosted on a small monitor,

every forecast an illusion.


                                                                    -Published in Pisgah Review 


Blue points of light suggest

a Milky Way below: the faint

prick and surge of headlights,

quasar towers, a nebula of mall.


A quick throttle‑back, a second

of weightless coasting; the head's gyro

corrects the winglight's dip,

argues direction out of darkness.


Details effaced, memory configures

a slash of freeway, a grand opening's

searchlight taper. Imperceptibly,

this lower galaxy thins to patternless glints.


The new constellations emerge:

Amanita, Enterprise.

All we are flies with us.

                                                     -Published in A Carolina Literary Companion



is missing seven pieces, now that we can count

the unaccounted for, amorphous cousins absent

from this family mottle. Their truancy reveals

brown amoeba voids in our panorama of cowboys

chasing mustangs, a splendid Palomino shattering

sage and cactus as it flames around chuckholes


dark as the dining room table, little misshapen caves 

of knobs and sockets, a Freudian mosaic with

discrete omissions, none touching, none

betraying the gray underside of desire.

Still, we miss the cousins who cannot see

the space we built for this reunion, how we


laid out a level floor, squared up corners and

framed the sides, then carefully raftered clouds

into a turquoise sky. They leave ghost shapes hovering

in the high plains air, a beautiful horse

slipping the uncoiled lariat.

                                                                  -Published in Montana Mouthful