Two Poems by James Grabill

Two Poems by James Grabill

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With Heat Going Up

Nothing that goes on around here
was bound to. Morning, evening,
standing up and walking, it all
depends on forces out of control.

Mammoth wealth has always weighed
more than it’s capable of handling.
It slam-dances glutinous gigatons
in acid-drenched high-end mosh pits.

So you’d like to leave a brief message
for people thousands of years out.
Nothing on Earth continues to exist.
Do we know people will stay people?

The eyes that work within the mind
see that they have little choice
but to signal hello and goodbye
on a split-second speck in infinity.

What’s the rush or drive to victory?
The heat’s going up in the stir-fry pan.
No species is capable of wiping out all
microorganisms, just the world it knows.

The night high with wheeling galaxies
falls on all fours through the day.
Day does not exist in outer space.
The mind stops when breathing ends.



Wind’s Always on the Road

The wind may be more powerful
than anyone with her sleeves
rolled up or anything nailed
to a roof or parked in a harbor.
But it’s no good at raking up debris.
It has no idea whether it’s celebrating
or in a rage, if it’s angrier than hell
at not being everywhere at the same time.
Maybe it was just trying to speak
like the Louie Armstrong face painted
on early maps, just trying to blow out
a word when it found it had no lips
or tongue, and no phrases combining
under the surface of air. It found no
mouth lined with teeth for biting off
phrases. All it’s ever had is what it is,
a verb transitive with multiple effects
slipping out of control, flapping, shaking
as if the marriage tent’s about to collapse,
leaves bent, stems snapped, mass peeled
like layers of skin off a tropical onion,
pieces of straw shot terrifically fast
as javelins penetrating trunks of trees.
Even if the wind did have a neocortex,
how often would it sit down to listen to you?
Could it even hear us shouting down here,
with parts of it entering the slipstream,
parts of it drilling into granite mountains,
while it’s circumnavigating the planet
in armadas of ghost ships, vacant planes,
with energies of resurrected whales, asking
for nothing more than the next place to go.




James GrabillJames Grabill’s recent work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review,, 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 Letter to America, four poems, and four poems.

Header photo by asmuSe, courtesy Pixabay.

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