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On the Virtue of the Dead Tree

Jorie Graham, 24 June 2010

... And that you hold the same one hawk each day I pass through my field             up. And that it             may choose its             spot so freely, from which to scan, and, without more than the wintry beguiling             wingstrokes seeding             the fields of air, swoop. It feeds ...

Futures

Jorie Graham, 5 July 2007

... Midwinter. Dead of. I own you says my mind. Own what, own                     whom. I look up. Own the looking at us say the cuttlefish branchings, lichen-black, moist. Also                     the seeing, which wants to feel more than it sees. Also, in the glance, the feeling of owning, accordioning out and up,                     seafanning, & there is cloud on blue ground up there, & wind which the eye loves so deeply it                     would spill itself out and liquify                     to pay for it – & the push of owning is thrilling, is spring before it                     is – is that swelling – is the imagined fragrance as one bends, before the thing is close enough – wide-                     eyed leaning – although none of this can make you                     happy – because, looking up, the sky makes you hear it, you know why we have come it                     blues, you know the trouble at the heart, blue, blue, what pandemonium, blur of spears roots cries leaves master & slave, the crop destroyed,                     water everywhere not                     drinkable, & radioactive waste in it, & human bodily waste, & what,                     says the eye-thinking heart, is the last colour seen, the last word heard – someone left behind, then no behind –                     is there a skin of the I own which can be scoured from inside                     the glance – no,                     cannot – & always                     someone walking by whistling a                     little tune, that’s life he says, smiling, there, that was life – & the heart branches with its                     wild arteries – I own my self, I own my leaving – the falcon watching from the tree – I shall torch the crop that no one else                     have it whispers the air – & someone’s swinging from a rope, his rope – the eye                     throbbing – day a noose looking for a neck – the fire spidery but fast – & the idea of                     friends, what was that, & the day, in winter, your lower back                     started acting up again, & they pluck out the eyes at the end                     for food, & don’t forget                     the meeting at 6, your child’s teacher                     wishes to speak to you about his future, & if there is no food and the rain is everywhere switching-on as expected,                     & you try to think of music and the blue of Giotto, & if they have to eat the arms he will feel no pain at least, & there is a                     sequence in which feeding takes place – the body is owned by the hungry – one is waiting                     one’s turn – one wants to own one’s                     turn – and standing there, don’t do it now but you might remember kisses – how you kissed his arm in the sun                     and                     tasted the sun, & this is your address now, your home address – & the strings are cut no one                     looks up any longer                     – or out – no – & one day a swan appeared out of nowhere on the drying river,                     it was sick, but it floated, and the eye felt the pain of rising to take it in – I own you                     said the old feeling, I want                     to begin counting again, I will count what is mine, it is moving quickly now, I will begin this                     message « I » – I feel the smile, put my hand up to be sure, yes on my lips – the yes – I touch it again, I                     begin counting, I say one to the swan, one, do not be angry with me o my god, I have begun the action of beauty again, on                     the burning river I have started the catalogue,                     your world, I your speck tremble remembering money, its dry touch, sweet strange                     smell, it’s a long time, the smell of it like lily of the valley sometimes, and pondwater, and how                     one could bend down close to it and drink ...

Day Off

Jorie Graham, 3 January 2008

... from the cadaver beginning to show through the skin of the day. The future without                      days. Without days of it?                      in it? I try to – just for a second – feel that shape. What weeds-up out of nowhere as you look away for                      good. So that you have to imagine whatever’s growing there growing forever ...

Self-Portrait: May I Touch You

Jorie Graham, 3 March 2016

...                                                                           here. May I touch your                                                                           name. Your                                                                           capital ...

Cage

Jorie Graham, 17 June 2021

... They ask me why. They ask me againwhy. Why the last of. Why the last ofa time. See, it curls up in the doorway & isthe doorway. Then wind and snow and time – your only time –curl up in it. Then the howling. It’s sayingsee, here, in this doorway, look respectfully, it is yr cage. Saying here isyr openingthat cannot befilled, these holes where yr earsshould be, where yr eyes shld be, everythingblows through – yr set of wrong answers, yr insufficient offerings,something not even fire couldburn – all exhalation, sprawl, flow – emptinessmaking of itself a shape for a while,why a while – because a while – thatis the subject – cannot be depicted – uhold your hands up thinking u areopened, u are not – u are still shut – completely shut – allmust go through u – shriek, mutter yrname, no onecan hear u – it’s yr cage, it’s leaking everywhere, lackingeverything – the shape of poverty is time, the form of time ispoverty, westarve, you’ve no idea how fast westarve ...

My Skin Is

Jorie Graham, 5 July 2018

... parched, on tight, questioned, invisible, full of so much evolution, now the moment is gone, begin again, my skin, here, my limit of the visible me, I touch it now, is spirit-filled, naturally-selected, caught in the storm here under this tree, propped up by history, which, I don’t know which, be careful, you can’t love everyone – brought to you by Revlon, melancholy, mother’s mother, the pain of others, spooky up close in this mirror here, magnified to the 100th, brutal no-colour colour, what shall I call it, shall I pass, meandering among the humans, among their centuries, no safe haven this as if, this spandex over a void, no exception, god watching though casually, paring, paring, a glance once in a while – what am I missing – what am I supposed to do now suddenly, what at the last minute here – what is there to fix – are we alone – am I – packaged so firmly for this short interval – vigorous skin, doomed outsideness of me – sadder & no wiser here blown up, so close, so here, I see you net that skeins me in, tight inside my inwardness – at this border judged – at this edge bleeding when hit – as was for a while – didn’t know enough to leave – didn’t see the farewell – right there in front of me – must it always end this way – must I ceaselessly be me, reinvent you, see the artifice us, feel hand-to-face the childhood gone, the starlight the wind the gaze the race, the stranger not knowing, the unsaid unsaid, unseen unfound – look how full of void it is this capture, these pores no one can clean, and thoughts right there beneath – of course you cannot see me for this wrapping – I notice the cover of your book, the dress you hide beneath, you sitting there reading me – pay mind, pay it out, peering as we are at each other here – dermal papilla pigment-layer nerve fibre blood and lymph, can we fit into this strictest time, so quick, one click and hurry up – we’ve been trying forever to get out of this lonely place – inside’s inside – the movie of the outside was all about exploring, we explored, we found what we should never touch, we touched, we touch, what’s so unusual we say, you are now mine we say, this is the feature coming on, this future, so full of liking & fine dis- closure, a bud-tip pushing aside its sheathe, then standing there, very whole now and official, open to damp, heat, stippling, shadow, freckle, slap, beauty or no beauty – please help me here as I can’t tell – the trees don’t know – the wind won’t speak – the gods must but their names are being withheld – because some of us are murdered, and some of us have mouths that keep saying yes, do that to me again, I know it hurts but yes, I am an American and I like it harder than you’ll ever know, this is Tuesday, the day rises with its fist over the harbour saying give it to me and the day obliges, saying more, more, do you want more, and the torch of dawn says more, yes more, ask for my identification, my little pool of identification, here on the only road, arrested again among the monuments ...

When Overfull of Pain I

Jorie Graham, 25 October 2018

... lie down on this floor, unnotice, try to recall, stir a little but not in heart, feel rust coming, grass going, if I had an idea this time, if I could believe in the cultivation, just piece it together, the fields the sky the wetness in the right spot, it will recline the earth it does not need your map, the rows you cut into it make their puzzled argument again, then seed, spring has a look in its eye you should not trust anymore, just look at it watching you from its ditch, its perch, heavy on the limbs, not reproach exactly not humour though it could be sly this one who will outlive you of course, this one who will cost you everything, yes, sly – do you catch my meaning says the cosmos-laden morning, I will cover you with weeds, I will move towards beginning but I will not begin again, the marsh gleams does it not, the two adolescent girls walking through it now, in the reprieve, they remind you, do they not, a summer frock underneath, a heavy coat over, so ready, the idea of a century being new beckoning, this one will end, that one we will traverse into via a small bomb perhaps, and the marsh waits, speckling, unremarkable, but yet you want to remark it, even by looking away you want to keep it normal, normal you say, rust can you be normal in me, marsh with your rusty grasses come, bring it again my normal, a bit frostbitten at the start of the day, but now warming where the horizon blues, where the wren has alighted right here camouflaged in normalcy, he left one feather on the ground, I’ll bend to pick it up after he goes, it too is all wings the day, it flaps its brightness on and the fields flatten, the sun lies oily in the sillion, furrow- slice, mould ...

I’m Reading Your Mind

Jorie Graham, 13 July 2017

... here. Have been for centuries. No, longer. Everything already has been. It’s not a reasonable place, this continuum between us, and yet here again I put the olive trees in, turn the whole hill-sweeping grove down, its mile-long headfuls of leaves upswept so the whole valley shivers its windy silvers, watery … A strange heat is upon us. Again. That was you thinking that ...

Tree

Jorie Graham, 8 February 2018

... Today on two legs stood and reached to the right spot as I saw it choosing among the twisting branches and multifaceted changing shades, and greens, and shades of greens, lobed, and lashing sun, the fig that seemed to me the perfect one, the ready one, it is permitted, it is possible, it is actual. The VR glasses are not needed yet, not for now, no, not for this while longer ...

Thaw

Jorie Graham, 7 May 2020

... There is a plot in the back of my building.Not the size of the asteroid.Not what fourhyper-crenellations of a reef would have held when there werereefs. It’s still here. I must notget the timeconfused. The times. There is a coolness in it which would have been newSpring. I can’t tell if it’ssmell, as of blossoms which would have been just thenbeginning, or of loam ...

Self-Portrait at Three Degrees

Jorie Graham, 3 December 2015

... Teasing out the possible linkages I – no you – who noticed – if the world – no – the world if – take plankton – I feel I cannot love any more – take plankton – that love is reserved for an other kind of existence – take plankton – that such an existence is a form of porn now – no – what am I saying – take plankton – it is the most important plant on earth – think love – composes at least half the biosphere’s entire primary production – love this – love what – I am saying you have no choice – that’s more than all the land plants on the whole planet put together – blooms so large they can be photographed from space – everything living – take it – here you take it, I can’t hold it anymore – you don’t want it – I don’t care – you carry it for now – I need to catch my breath – I want to lie here and listen – within fifty years if we are lucky – I am writing this in 2015 – like spraying weedkiller over all the world’s vegetation – that’s our raw material, our inventory, right now, we are going through the forms of worship, we call it news, we will make ourselves customers, we won’t wait, how fast can we be delivered – will get that information to you – requires further study – look that’s where the river used to be – one morning I woke up and I was born – I realised I was born – earth was the place to be – hurtling winding unwinding thick nexus looking up at sky down at soil will I learn how to stand on it – I will – I am standing, look, I am a growth possibility, will accumulate a backlog, will become an informed consumer→shapeless unspendable future→this was my song to you→ I stood for the first time on my own→unimaginable strength in these feet, these hands→what am I supposed to not harm→I want to touch things till they break→that is how to see them→all the points of contact→entropy, diminishment, pressing and then pulling back and looking, leaving alone→unimaginable→a meaning in every step→I change shape→it is allowed→wind proves everything wrong→so nothing is unimagined→press too far and there you have it→dream→shape of certainty→wide forces gathering in the sunlight→thought→feel this it is serenity→this is completeness→something darted into the bush→no forcing just curve flight gathering terror unfinality clumps of feel/think then tree-swallows bursting up out of the tree they were not leaves after all the field of rules not visible but suddenness its own rule→surprise ...

From the Transience

Jorie Graham, 2 November 2017

... May I help you. No. In the mirror? No. Look there is still majesty, increase, sacrifice. Night in the flat pond. Moon in it/on it disposing entirely of mind. No. Look there is desert where there was grassland there is sun-inundation like a scrupulous meditation no message just mutter of immensity where it leaks into partiality. Into you/me. Our boundaries now in the epic see-through, how they elude wholeness, let in illusion, pastness, whole years in a flash, then minutes that do not end – that desert – that jungle ...

Whom Are You

Jorie Graham, 10 October 2019

... speaking to. What is that listening tous. I’d like to know whom to address. In this we callthe physical world. Is there another where the footfalls gofrom this stony path as it grows granular. They dis-appear. The silence is ruinous. It seems there could be thunder hidden in this blazingblue, but it’s just dry wind reaching the field. I’d like to know again whom toaddress ...

Translation Rain

Jorie Graham, 9 September 2021

... I am writing this in code because I cannot speak or saythe thing. The thing which should be, or I so wishcould beplumbed fathomed disinterred from this silence, this ever thickeningsilence through which, once, the long thin stalks & stems, firstweaker weeds then branching &stiffening, steadying &suddenly sturdier –strong enough to carry the seen – the seeming autocorrect reminds me –the meaning my mind offers rushing in heresuch that I must pull it back here –grew ...

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