Russ Kesler

The hate and fear his words could carry
are with me after almost forty years.
So why did I spend hours that raw fall day
searching for his stone? Even there, I kept
turning toward bright fields he'd planted in
the fragrant yellow leaf that brought him down.

I'd watch the smoke that curled from his cigarette
and shaped the sentences outside his lips.
Old firebreather, sweet man, he'd have been
at home beneath a burning cross. I tried
to find him on that bluegrass hillside,
wondering if that past was better lost.