12 December, 2011Issue 17.5Original Poetry

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Three Poems: James Grabill

James Grabill


Milliseconds Stop.

When the lengthy faithful mineral satellites orbit
with their reading power, the more thorny
blackberry vines burst apart the ground in back
under the invisible stars of disciplines and modern
pungency of dropped needles dips as it passes
the houses in time, where not as many seem practiced
on their clavichords or willing to put up with complex
consistency, as absent and present as summer
momentum is here when the future dancers dive
then lower their long arcing arms stirring the air
from fiery vestment, when drummers start into miles
of talking chest carried by calm, before a fir tree
through limbs is releasing archival golden camera
flashes in 1953 finding immeasurable new surroundings,
as all around, matter is being, then being is replaced
by other matter in what little we ought to know, once
something hard to hold long enough for words has been
reaching closer to old-world tables of ancestral beauty.

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*
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Intelligent Machines

If international equipment
were required to go
to school, would it grow
two eyes and a human nose?

Would the teeth in its mouth practice
daily stewardship and carry on
with a busy barnyard of mostly domestic
inner organs? Would sympathetic gears

encourage one another to personalize
transcendent intuitive forces?
Would punch presses get the idea
they’re already larger than life?

Would sad corporate switches
decide they can never again
go home? Would door knobs discover
they’re meth addicts, and go off

to an exotic country, to discover unfamiliar
appliances willing to painfully kneel
before highly advanced generators,
after standing in line praying half a day?

Would tractor throttles learn later to connect
their symptoms to unregulated
petrochemicals they’d apparently been
testing on their own? Would wrenches

apply the principle of sanctity and practice
being aware? Would the brain
of the thermostat keep abreast
of the current stats, hoping to manage
its attachments well? Would electronics

understand the long haul and concept
of intrinsic worth as it applies to all
machine parts, all gauges and regulators,

condensers and panels in working order
or not? Would there be cases
of suddenly older electromagnetic
coils slipping into distress more than often

over the words if only, as in if only I’d been
able to hold another tight in sweet
slow-dancing to a hot loving ballad
from Mo Town,* if only I’d experienced

the organic cocktail of desire and longing,
bewilderment and wild adrenaline,
working on primal identity, after that first

sensation of body with body and the way
it grew into a slow caressing eighth
grade grind, through what
must have been street clothes?

*Detroit (the “motor city”)

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*
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Beautiful Shoulder

Around 1,200,000 or so fibers of the eye
feed the world into sacred territories

of your brain. Your body, your individual
beauty has complexity that matches
the world’s. The ecosystem body balances

life support for numerous internal species
that keep you alive. Depths of the brain
work around the mind, taking in more

than anyone knows. Exquisite terrain
runs throughout you, cities of single cell
beings that love you and want to work

together, the intelligent blood, fingertip
senses. The intuitive brain lives in parallel
universes that converge at each moment.

Is it possible to maintain verisimilitude?
The brain includes parts that got along

before the creation of mind. Articulation
of your bare shoulder, ethical electrical
networks, skin that holds you, wanting

to please you, likes to move skin on skin,
to take you swimming, feeling through
fluid lenses. 538,000,000 fired-up cells

of visual cortex deliver to the whole of you,
as a shoulder regards the curve of a hand.
.

*

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James Grabill‘s poems have appeared in various literary journals. Periodically, they have been arranged into collections (four from Lynx House Press). He lives in Oregon, where he has taught writing, Shakespeare, the Beats, and sustainability.