Stephen Kessler



The grief must be got at

no matter how deep you must dig

or who gets hurt any worse than they already were,

unearthed bodies, skeletons too sexy to forget,

mines no matter who laid them, all of a piece

to shake loose primal dirt, so dark

even viral media won’t touch it.  

This is where false memories get mixed in,

fact-checkers be damned, there’s more than evidence,

the eyewitnesses almost saw what happened

if they hadn’t been looking the wrong way.  

And so the excavators are summoned,

the sappers and the gravediggers,

the dusters of hard remains,

the men with headlights on their helmets,

even the painters scraping away and repainting

in layers over the primed images.  

How far down must you drill

until hitting the first pain, or the vein

whose ore will enrich you when you own

what you don’t know and you keep digging.


Stephen Kessler is a poet, prose writer, translator, and editor.  He is the author of ten books and chapbooks of original poetry, sixteen books of literary translation, and three collections of essays.   His most recent books are Where Was I? (prose poems/memoirs), Need I Say More? (essays) and Forbidden Pleasures (new selected poems of Luis Cernuda, translation).  He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

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