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L. Ward Abel

The Killdeer Wheel


The killdeer wheel in plain

sight, like seabirds they

nest in the road with equinox

just beyond some trees.


La Mer plays on a device

curtains billow in a March of

twenty-four seven.

I put up


a fence of old cut timber

between me and a tall walnut,

planted dogwoods just behind

it. Losing topsoil at the speed


of slope of drop of scrub

the sea is where it

goes. Someday tree roots

will drain all piedmont lakes.






Having fallen asleep in holy lands

where the roads tell the weather

I awaken to footprints in dew I can see

trespass from the porch I can hear music

under these baritone hills all at once

major and minor chords fill a sideways tilt

and there are clarinets like coyotes

not trumpets like they said there’d be

another bubble another stone.




The Road to Hamilton


There’s an ethnicity of fields; they accompany

the way down to Hamilton.

Remainings line the road.

Crofts are mum like whippoorwills. 

The effort that cleared them to the wood line

is so so gone. It still amazes me how shade

is jagged like endings, and how living 

is the hitch.




A Tilt, Not a Tumbler



Clouds billow way past the river.

Here it’s as wide as the Tennessee

or the Mississippi, but width is


as this one has a shallow blackwater

tilt, not a tumbler

of rolling cataracts.


Along shores of the like there are losers,

yes losers and those who will soon lose

whether youth is what fades or beauty

or both but a wasting away manifests

in the ruddiness and in eyes that leak

and scarred foreheads in these longest 


of nights.  A bleeding is here.

A drunken gash is here. On the edge

of what was recently wilderness 

it’s too dark, something made in offices

dominates, becomes brackish 

as we sit around and wait for


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