So many names to learn, so many already lost,
constellations, composers, flora and fauna
of the eastern seaboard, ancient gods and heroes.
I stared at car parts catalogues,
with my uncles before I could read the words,
and they told me how each part fit together.
I liked the sounds an idling engine made,
cardiac pulsing of a transmission through
its gears, the blood-surge of acceleration.
The shadow of a hawk leaves no trace
on the ground, as the vanishing of a name
forgotten whispers not even a soft goodbye.
Jesse Graves is the author of two collections of poetry, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine (2011), and Basin Ghosts (2014). He was awarded the 2014 Philip H. Freund Prize for Creative Writing from Cornell University, and the 2015 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is Associate Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at East Tennessee State University.