Letter to America by James Grabill

Letter to America by James Grabill

One Poem

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One Moment More

This is a moment that lasts
as long as it takes,
or in no time is lost,
having failed to resemble the establishment.

Maybe it’s just stepped through the back yard
on elk hooves with a grip on the underneath
wordlessness of cosmos, when you can’t see

an end that wasn’t impossible,
with emptiness rushing your coastal villages,
a reason for sudden good, a refusal
to yield to intractable order imposed

to stop the clock on mint conditions before the court,
to broadcast attention to melting mammoth society

before pooling unavoidable maneuvers
as behold all day down in the green sprouts,

inside out in contiguous circulation to cells,
right side up for mud-caked boots
under renaissance frescoes of the rotunda

with tiger iridescence of cyclamen blooms
on the chance that if this day had a mind to,
it could drive home what lives between.

It could sort clandestine billionaire bidding
from lymphatic dark matter behind the wheel.

It could penetrate the reverberation membrane
with sterling silver star-point needles
that manage cosmic rays along meridians.

It could bark like one whale of a hound dog
up the tree of substantial divestment,
requiring the incorporation of each minute
to be subdivided within the collective.

If the day were willing to perform
on its massive whale-bone violin
strung in the mycelia underground for miles,

maybe it would issue fewer declarations
of manic aspiration in Aztec moonlight.

Maybe the rice it has managed to soak in sweat
will get the hint and move to higher elevations.

If it had a mind to, the day could look far back
into the mirror for the first time in the world
and recognize itself as a central committee,

a basketball team that reenacts philosophic constraints,
a biodiversity of identity so different and identical
as to feed little children with transformation
of rays of the sun passing through resistance.

It’s the day that has been contemporary,
and the ministers of palatial finance archaic.

The moment’s a bone flute and spinal saxophone
in a joint solo played by readiness of the receiver,

the receptionist with an alert satellite dish,
the listener whose ear drums are pounding
when lastness seals over its onion with skins,

the witness at the hearing of Pollock paintings
projected through prisms in a praying mantis eye,

the exoplanetary atmospheric sprite-bursts
only dogs can hear, before listening down
to lowing coos maybe mewling a tonic tune
for the ovum avoiding danger in a shell
under a mother-warmed haunch feather.

It’s lastness of the agencies of cosmos that rings up
the unlasting receiver dreaming of trees that saved us.

It’s tall trees that resound, glowing with their moss
that turns stone luminous before witnessing cells.

It’s the united court of public redistribution
that recognizes the urgency of hunger
anyone going without is likely to feel

that considers the reports and then acts
from an indelible script written in genetic code

to defy intentional ignorance and dominion
out to impose on whatever they’ve found.

It’s the quick moment that drives streets
down county roads to the global ruins
of sands collected along the western coast

where the dawn sun that was here
has turned into sun at dusk,
before the whole thing dives.




James GrabillJames Grabill’s recent work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain.org, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. His books are Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994) and An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003) published by Lynx House Press. His books of environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Book One (2014) and Sea-Level Nerve: Two (2015), were published by Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.
Read more poetry by James Grabill appearing in Terrain.org: four poems and four poems.

Header photo by qimono, courtesy Pixabay.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.