Two poems by Nathan Kemp

Lonely Isn’t Right

My heart should be doing handsprings.
There should not be a hollowness

in my stomach. My thirsty soul tries to melt snow
on the stove. The same smell of wet clothing.

The morning is getting on in shambles
I haven’t room for. The numbness begins

to grow inside me. I hadn’t said that for a long time,
but now I say it automatically,

like a precarious nerve struck over and over. I call
not very loudly because I need to conserve my strength.

A secret part of me likes my body, as if
it were some alien instrument to be used

to its precise limit. There is magic in my pace
to test it. I take to the woods in winter,

ice granules sprouting silver in the sun.
I feel a wild rush when I know I’m not in a bad spot.

I clear snow from stumps and fallen trees
or stamp little holes in the snow to sit in.

This blood in my ears is only a sound, a loud
plunk I struggle to get out of my head.

It is most unnoticeable when I do not feel it.
An angling shaft of sunlight brings it out.

The world falls away, leaving only a fierce singing
within me, an unuttered music that overflows

everywhere that I am alone in. There’s a craziness
at the finish and it’s contagious.



For the Moose at Brainard Lake

A light bulb goes off,
and then, whatever.

The February sun
is already signaling

its bluebird intentions,
the first formal

treeless expanse of lesser
peaks and valleys.

The wind is just about
anywhere, but barely

able to extinguish
a birthday candle.

You don’t need to take
a truck to see it.

Drowning is no issue.
On water, you must overcome

friction. On snow
you encounter little

resistance. You get
a taste of water lily

when the wind fills in,
like a parachute slowing the descent.





Nathan Kemp was born in 1990. He is the author of two chapbooks, Animals of the New World (H_NGM_N BKS, 2015) and Gnomic Verse (Dream Horse Press, forthcoming). He is an associate editor at H_NGM_N BKS and a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

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