Issue 35, Final Fringe

Three poems

by Timothy Kercher Issue 23 07.26.2010

The Travelling

The road is built-up earth, I say to her despite
her disbelief that a road could be anything natural
like a land bridge connecting two masses—
like us watching our own migration
as if our four feet together are woolly mammoth feet
as gigantic as the continents we wear on the bottom
of our shoes, the imprints carving out a story
of a chase, a game played by hungry bellies, the world
of our stomachs round, empty, and rolling
ahead, our stomachs tied to a sled like sleigh dogs,
a whip in my hand, the leather strap unfurling like a road
that meets the round-ball earth, an eye squinting
at a destination—this destination just a word with no station,
a word undefined by arrival because arrival is always
followed by the gaggle of departures, those goose-wing birds
we keep in the garden until the weather gets cold—


Set up the yard with boxwood shrubs
& butterfly bushes. Don’t mow the grass.
Take down your fence if you have one.
Make sure your lawn chairs are set
to recline. Try to make yourself
approachable as you design your yard.
Be subtle enough in movement that dogs
don’t bark, that stray cats rub
against your pant leg and purr.
Make it so your presence puts a polar bear
to sleep. Be as quiet as a colony
of ants. Be the lawn
chair in your yard. Be the shrub. Be the bush
or butterfly and don’t make a sound.
Don’t be frightened at the size
of its feet. Don’t snap a photo.
Don’t move an inch. Be the grass.
Be the air and the breeze. When you feel
you’ve done all you can,
be a shadow, be what it’s like to hide behind
what’s already hidden. When you’ve done this,
when you think you are truly ready, stop thinking,
and right at this point—become what
trusts itself enough to be seen.

Nose Box

I went to the butcher shop
for a pair of lips. I wanted to give
a gift, a kiss.

They were all out.

I moved on
to the next counter, above a pair of lungs,
to a nose in a jar. A nose? I remembered
a story about Inuit greetings—
the kunik—by pressing nose and upper lip
against the skin & breathing in,
they warm the Arctic air. Pure magic.
Convergence of mountains,
each with a tunnel
to the lungs, passion’s hub!

So I clinked my coins,
did the math, reached in,
asked for a box & gift wrap—

who can hide from a nose?
This puts out exactly
the message I want to send:
honest, intimate,

even slightly phallic,
right here, swaddled
in this box—
not a kiss, but a rub,
a sniff, a touch,
& the chance
of being left

Timothy Kercher

Timothy Kercher

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Timothy Kercher is in the process of moving to Kyiv, Ukraine from the Republic of Georgia, where he has been editing and translating an anthology of contemporary Georgian poetry. He completed his MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts in January 2010. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in the Atlanta Review, The Dirty Goat, Poetry International Journal, The Evansville Review, Ellipsis: Art and Literature, Barnyard Poetry Magazine, Los Angeles Review, Sierra Nevada Review, and others.