Richard Nester




Richard Nester’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals including Cape Discovery: the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Anthology, Ploughshares, and Seneca Review and on-line in Qarrtsiluni and Inlandia. He was recently the feature poet in the Summer 2015 issue of Floyd County Moonshine.


“[a Jungian concept is] the presence of the shadow self”
–The Guide to Human Thought
Horse on the left I heard him say
but did not apprehend
so used to cyclers
as I crossed the bridge and turned
uphill, but there was force
behind me, that much I understood
and called back I hear you,
signaling okay
with my right hand over my shoulder.
Coming hard I heard
and then a burst of hooves, a wind,
a storm of life, swoosh, whew,
a ton of skittish power,
twice the size of an Indian pony,
but still afraid of beer cans under foot,
so uncalm, so unpredicated an animal
(no such glints, no metal shine,
in the “Paleo” or any other “zoic”).
I wanted to ask the rider
does he mind you being on top
with your heavy cerebellum
and dead reins
signals juiced with just
the tiniest bits of pain.
There are moments, see,
when I mind my intelligence
because I want to run
or don’t mind it
and get in trouble,
whole days
I can’t decide just whom
I’m most in legion with—you or him.
But you were gone on up the trail,
and I was there—
as I so often am—
still both,
in one hide.


written to commemorate the scattering of her parent’s ashes
If my friend could only get the funeral urns
of a few strangers, she’d have a graveyard
on her mantel above the bookshelves.

Two parents and a husband are there already,
keeping watch over her parties, excellent dinners,
and casual drunkenness. They’ve minded me too,
on occasion, my crude humor and strange elations.
I like the familiarity of it, as if death were little
more than temporary absence, a special form
of inwardness, a sort of walk-about.
Whispers go out, across
her mantel late at night, returning as cricket-code
or mouse-scrape. Stars too whisper to other stars,
beyond the porch light, fierce talk that blows off
atmospheres, tossing time like grain.
When—a human sound,
robust, elastic, at home in any future, any past,
a syllable we substitute for hope till hope ensnares us,
hope that makes us rich and poor, that salts our days
beyond the oxygen of now, a word the wind
might whisper if it could—
Ruth Phillip Phillip Ruth . . .
What gathers, scatters. One star is as good as the next.
Settle where you can.

Splitting 24-Inch Logs with a 9-Pound Hammer and Wedges: Week Two

Getting better. Now the logs see me coming
and divide themselves. Except for knots.
Every system has them. Trees too—cross-grained
points of decision that harden over time
into a celebrated toughness.
Not even burning takes them to nothing.
I waste a lick or two, then go around.


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