Devin Kelly 

For Levon Helm 


Shoulders slung high & tight, collarbone snared

between neck & arm, you rock back, hot snare
popped before the bass, & sing. What god snared
you out the South, made you thin-lip that summer snare

of dirt & rain & blues? I once saw a squirrel snared

from sky by bird, talons round its bones, cracking snare-

like as they snapped. I know now the taut snare

of history, coming in on ones, that hot snare
before the sorrow song. You taught me, Levon, snared
me as I watched, that a man can be a song snared
from earth, that a song can be a kind of earth snared
from ground by shovel, drumstick, rim hit before the snare,

& then again & again. Grip the wood light, strike snare
like skin, tender, just to let it know you love, are trying, snare

once more the rhythm of life before you let it go, snared

back into the beat, the beat, the beat, & no more. 


Devin Kelly earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series in New York City. He is the author of the books Blood on Blood (Unknown Press) and In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen (forthcoming, CCM Press). He has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes. He works as a college advisor in Queens, teaches at the City College of New York, and lives in Harlem.