Four Poems by James Grabill

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A Few Miles into the Century

               At what point did sleep-swimming wake?

               Where does being present begin and end?

               Haven’t North American nightcrawlers chosen to paw soft dirt by their holes to the other world, finding one another?

               Has any act been other than collective?

               Cycles at the root of heat, Bach crackling in integrity, shadows of Schoenberg thrown onto ground by sea-level—what lifts within cells may already know how a gull threads her flight in between stone in the sound.

               What part of the whole would being exclude? Can the mind envision what presence portends?

               Hammer those solar tiles down lightly, my boys. Tighten those photo-electric shingles under the sun. For wheeling within wheeling turns through current encircling, as pike at the bottom of the lake leave their imprints under giant galaxies in revolutions out of view of the eye.

               Haven’t we seen where carbon time-bombs in the air?

               Oh Lord, woncha bring us a new Frigidaire?

               For haven’t we been where we haven’t gone?



The Idea of Heat 14° Higher Than Usual All July

               An era of hot spots, drought, and floods launches from the encircling equator and poles.

               All July in 2010 Moscow, the heat remains 14° higher than usual. Crops fail, leaves brown, and Russia turns to the world food market as the night stars burn.

               Drought holds onto Syria, farms in the east good for little, and when people appeal for assistance from the monarch, the place ends up in war.

               Where heat far beyond normal strikes, it leaves behind more for the vultures, for the hyenas and hornets. Take 2011 in Texas, where many deaths of people are being reclassified with climate change in mind.

               Shifting currents in winds and oceans deliver unexpected lifts and falls, as flaming derivative algorithms scan the river-fog split second in which a few massive concentrations of wealth in the world grow.

               While coal-burning the future to incapacity appears a specialty of ignorance these days, so does obstruction of changes we must make. In the history of mercy, what happens next?

               The way Earth looks from space, a place interconnected, smaller than ancestors thought, what happens next could suddenly appear.




Information found in Scientific American, August 2008

               Around the world, the cost of food has doubled in three years. The Liberian cash needed for a bag of brown rice three years ago now buys a handful.

               Switching what trucks and cars burn, from gasoline to hydrogen, would stop the flow of carbon pumped from the underground into air, but this is decades off.

               Chemists have identified a substance that will block bitterness, fooling taste buds. Consider the possibilities, all that can be added at the factory to truly bitter foods.

               Researchers have learned from lotus plants that small bumps on top of the leaves slope so water drops form and are instantly repelled.

               Water drips from lotus leaves, carrying off any mud, wafts of curry, powders of incense. East Indians know that clean lotus plants may be growing in muddy ponds.

               The Stenocara, an African desert beetle, has bumps on her back. She just lifts her back straight up, opens her mouth below, to drink mists from the air.

               A new technological device for condensing moisture out of the air is being refined for those who don’t have enough water.



Moths at the Front Screen

               The moths fly after transformation in arms of the plants. Ice melts in terrific splits and the truck of tissue and bone smoldering in wing-beat swells.

               Going about business in the mineral summer have been moths tendering the collective.

               Through weight and infinitesimal lightness, in the workhorse ancestry of cells, the spectrum’s packed into rock of day into night, the low roar of seawater weight asking, What do you think will last?

               Far from the ocean, early night moths bring quickness to more children, as unmasked as anything is.

               The moths land on the front screen between species. A few of the less settled bank off infrared Cheyenne energies, as a few flute silently through chemical mists.

               Unclassified Amazon moths will be drying their wings where the next leaves go under.

               Couldn’t we have stopped at the root of hungers, before willingness to sacrifice the future for a little more now?

               Venus in the winds says, This body floats on origin. A muskellunge lingers in cold pools at the bottom of water, out of sight but close enough to feel. A door blows open in the atmosphere from the long-term fault of All this is yours.




James Grabill’s poems and prose poems have appeared in periodicals such as Stand, Caliban, Magma, Blunderbuss, Carbon Culture Review, Toronto Quarterly, Harvard Review,, Seneca Review, The Lost Coast Review, kayak, Plumwood Mountain, The Bitter Oleander, Weber: The Contemporary West, The Common Review, and The Buddhist Poetry Review, among others. Wordcraft of Oregon has published his ecological prose poems: Sea-Level Nerve: Book One in 2014 and Sea-Level Nerve: Book Two in 2015. A long-time Oregon resident, he teaches “systems thinking” relative to sustainability.

Read other poems by James Grabill appearing in

Abstract image of eye with Earth as pupil courtesy Shutterstock.

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