A Selection of Poems

By

Ken Chamlee

jetstream 2.jpg

Poetry from collections

WEATHER MAP

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 

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THE NEW CONSTELLATIONS

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

Yellow happy moon

THE MOON’S FACE OPENS IN SONG

Stars are dragging webbed chairs

toward the campfire of her voice.

Clustered under quilts, they tip

plaid thermoses as marshmallows

flame and fall, then belt out camp songs

louder every round until

they quaver near to collapse.

 

One old star, around since the beginning,

uncorks a jug of shine and pours some

into a leaky dipper. “Have you heard,” he asks,

“why the moon never shows her backside?”

 

“Do not tell that story,” the moon cautions,

but the old star winks, takes a long

draw from the jug. “Was this

young comet came through here once,”

he drolls, and settles back to tell.

 

 

                                                                            -Published in Kakalak 

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THE JIGSAW PUZZLE FROM THE SECOND-HOME THRIFT STORE

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