Hellbender Nocturne

by J.D. Hibbitts Issue: Spring/Summer 2021

Night hiking, away from the land meander 
        of trail, 
a bushwhack veer, an ankle break 
step down from cut banks
to where he murks between boulders
                               strewn from glacial afterthought. 

I have deep noodled for the fat-bellied
brail of him among the shadowed mud culverts;
ancient mouth rare as dragon fossil.           
His is the current’s slow, shaping hunger

that gnaws at roothooks, looses the Japanese
nests from his kappa kin;
                                         mottled ripple 
in the imagination. Mud devil, snot otter,
                                                  walking catfish: 
he barbs the space where myth camouflages science—
extant pebble of the prehuman.
 Soon, he will burrow 
deeper sediments. His underwater fire breath
a last lone draw through stream coils.

Totem to the before, in queue for the soon-gone.
He exhales and dark water ripples stones yet formed.

J.D. Hibbitts

 J.D. Hibbitts grew up in Southwest Virginia, but roamed the globe for a few years as an enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force. He earned his BA from Emory & Henry College. While enrolled at Emory & Henry, he was the first student to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail through their Semester-A-Trail Program. Additionally, he also holds an MFA in fiction from McNeese State University. Some of his poetry and fiction appear in the following journals: Thuglit, San Pedro River Review, Sugar House Review, Kenyon Review online, Reed Magazine, and The Sierra Nevada Review. He does not have a strong social media presence, but feel free to email him at tennbucktwo@gmail.com