“THERE’S NO THROUGH TRAIL” —HAN-SHAN, TRANSLATED BY GARY SNYDER
/ Hellbender Nocturne

Hellbender Nocturne

by J.D. Hibbitts

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

About 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.

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.