poems by Russ Kesler

As If is available from your local bookstore, or from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

   Alabama Writers' Forum


Russ Kesler's previous book of poems is A Small Fire (Pecan Grove Press). His poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Connecticut Review, Southern Humanities Review, and many other journals. He teaches in the English Department at the University of Central Florida where he is poetry editor of The Florida Review.

Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Dr
Nicholasville KY 40356

Russ Kesler’s new book of poems, As If, opens with an expansive image of a “Hawk high over the gorge,/ its shadow touching/ the pale green of leafing trees ...” and in that image one begins to be drawn into a clear and expansive vision. Here is a poet who combines thought and feeling naturally, who sees with tenderness and precision the beauty and the transience of the world we inhabit.… in poem after poem Russ Kesler gives us the details of a life keenly observed, intensely imagined and freshly presented, a life in which it becomes hard to draw the line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
—Greg Pape, author of American Flamingo

Although the title points to the suspension of disbelief, Russ Kesler’s As If could equally be called Now, the ground note sounded throughout this lovely book.… In the company of these poems, one feels oneself to be among those for whom, as Bashō put it, “everything they see is like a flower and everything they imagine is like the moon”—which is to say that in the world of this book where the present is shadowed by history and mortality, beauty and light still have a place. In part, because of their leanness, these poems exude the “sweet release” of work engaging the whole self, like wood split and carefully stacked “so the pile will stand.”
—Debra Kang Dean, author of Precipitates

Russ Kesler’s poems, for all the earth and vibrant life that’s in them, can seem like fragile things though that’s wrong. As If accrues real force from quietness and closest observation—page after page, the generosity, the surprise, the humanity, the tough realization, the gentlest new understanding, all in poems that unfailingly do honor and pay reverence to this great art.
—Philip F. Deaver, author of How Men Pray

From the Book —

My Mother Reports from Heaven

Dear all,
               just wanted you to know I’ve arrived.
I don’t remember much about the journey
except that it was pleasant. A woman
I traveled with said she hoped to find
her husband. I haven’t seen her since,
but all the folks I’ve met have been real nice.
It’s quiet here—no choirs of angels,
no heavenly host. We go about our days
alone together. 
                      The reason that I write
is just to tell you that I’m fine. My breath
comes easy now, the air is sweet. I know
you worried so about me, in that bed.
I’m sorry that I told you I was frightened.
I was, of course. Toward the end, someone
said the Twenty-third Psalm in my ear.
I knew that voice and couldn’t seem
to place it. But it helped.
                                      I thought that I’d
have more to say when I started this. 
There’s really no such thing as news up here,
if I’m above you, the way the Bible
had it. I thought I’d miss you, but I don’t.