I hid Blackbird Forest
with skulls for rain and trees.
It moved islands, it slipped starlight,
stretched its world against the sun
inside a rocket.
Night drew past Neptune.
You could hear the cage birds
slip their black bills from the feeding tray
to remember something, maybe a jungle,
maybe the rattle of dry bamboo stalks
along the Mekong, the cries of children
when the rocket launchers gleaned smoke
five minutes down range. There was soon
no sound except parrots squawking.
Orbit was achieved. The sun rose twice.
Blackbird Forest became my room.
Was the sun shrinking? Was heaven
playing bamboo leaves, floating a moth,
tricking again the same world it left?
I heard the skulls moving in Cambodia
and East Timor. I heard their dreams.
I heard the Pacific Ocean swerving
towards Orion. The cage birds laughed.
Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia with his wife, Kendall, and their son, Alan. Blackbird Forest is part of a manuscript he has been working at for about 15 years. Some poems from the manuscript have been published in Dark Planet, Rose Red, Sugar Mule, Cortland Review and other magazines.