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Jorie Graham

20 March 1997
... I can’t really remember now. The soundless foamed. A crow hung like a cough to a wire above me. There was a chill. It was a version of a crow, untitled as such, tightly feathered in the chafing air. Rain was expected. All round him air dilated, as if my steady glance on him, cindering at the glance-core where it held him tightest, swelled and sucked, while round that core, first a transition, granular – then remembrance of thing being seen – remembrance as it thins-out into matter, almost listless – then, sorrow – if sorrow could be sterile – and the rest fraying off into all the directions, variegated amnesias – lawns, black panes, screens the daylight thralls into in search of well-edged things … If I squint, he glints ...


Jorie Graham

8 September 2011
... Listen the voice is American it would reach you it has wiring in its swan’s neck                where it is                always turning round to see behind itself as it has no past to speak of except some nocturnal journals written in woods where the fight has just taken place or is about to                take place                for place the pupils have firelight in them where the man a surveyor or a tracker still has                no idea what                is coming the wall-to-wall cars on the 405 for the ride home from the cubicle or the corner                office – how big the difference – or the waiting all day again in line till your number is                called it will be                called which means exactly nothing as no one will say to you as was promised by all eternity ‘ah son, do you know where you came from, tell me, tell me your story as you have come to this                Station’ – no, they                did away with                the stations                and the jobs                the way of                life and your number, how you hold it, its promise on its paper, if numbers could breathe each one of these would be an                exhalation, the last breath of something and then there you have it: stilled: the exactness: the number: your                number ...
29 March 2017
...                                                             the laying down on                                                             the earth of the five-fingered silvermailed open hand of the Iguana. Life size. Look. Everything in life turns out to be                                                             life- size ...
31 July 1997
... Again today the dream. But of what? The dream like a long slim tunnel we lay ourselves down in – the lilies in the dust, the face that seems to shine in the linoleum – blue – the thing we would strip down to if – the melting snow allowing, the faint falling-sound receding … But the nature of the dream will not appear for us. It lightens the air immeasurably as if it were itself a kind of dawn, but only its form appears, a stillness too elaborate for minds like roots, minds that are roots, to comprehend – (when what we wanted most, of course, was to believe, be loved) – oh comprehension, such a small hissing sound it makes on this still air, that exhalation, little path in its own right the dream lays down ...


Jorie Graham

15 August 2019
... Can this write the future, its ooze and stiffening. With whom am I speaking. It sounds like a receiver off the hook a long time. It’s weeping. And you can’t say please stop to the future, it will not stop, it will not stop listening to you as you approach it, always clearer always louder – please stop listening future, but no it does not speak, it just leans in a bit & hears us as we come towards it – & once you think it you must think it – there is no way to recover what we were before – it will not fade – it’s only a thought but it will not fade – unnerving me, its only witness ...
6 June 2019
... stillness. Stillness in time. Rich concentrate. Late summer late-day light. Over but not on magenta. Of. Of dahlia-heads. Of serrated leaves trimmed gold. Plush stalk lost-still in non-moment. All awake but no wakefulness. Low. Small. Snug in flooding light. Unwilled. No speed of anything, no, no motion on surface because suddenly no surface, all a mechanism yes but now neither on nor off, & shining, & not even a frill of breeze – as if there had never been time – as if being had never been or not been – no containing, no cause/effect thing, no, all swallowed by unmovingness of all things ...


Jorie Graham

30 August 2018
... After the rain stops you can hear the rained-on. You hear oscillation, outflowing, slips. The tipping-down of the branches, the down, the exact weight of those drops that fell over the days and nights, their strength, accumulation, shafting down through the resistant skins, nothing perfect but then also the exact remain of sun, the sum of the last not-yet-absorbed, not-yet-evaporated days ...


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 ...

Sea Change

Jorie Graham

7 June 2007
... One day: stronger wind than anyone expected. Stronger than           ever before in the recording           of such. Un- natural says the news. Also the body says it. Which part of the body – I look           down, can           feel it, yes, don’t know where. Also submerging us,           making of the fields, the trees, a cast of characters in an           unnegotiable drama, ordained, iron-gloom of low light, everything at once undoing           itself ...


Jorie Graham

19 July 2007
... After great rain. Gradually you are revealing yourself to me. The lesson carves                      a tunnel through an occupied territory. Great beaches come into existence, are laved for centuries, small                      play where the castles are built, the water carried up for moats, the buckets lost at the end of the exciting                      day, then even the dunes go under, it takes a long while but then                      they are gone altogether, ocean takes the place, as today where the overpass revealed the fields gone                      under &, just at the surface of the water, the long miles of barbed wire, twice-there, the ones below (of water) trembling, the fence-posts’                      small fixed pupils staring up                      every fifty feet at the sky, glittering, their replicas shivering, the spines of grasses gnawed-at by the sick                      human eye, when will we open them again our eyes, this must all be from the world of shut eyes, one’s temples feel                      the cold, maybe one is                      inside a sea shell, one is what                      another force is hearing – how lovely, we are being handed over to an other force, listen, put                      this to your ear – the last river we know loses its form, widens, as if a foot were lifted from the dancefloor but not put down again, ever,                      so that it’s not a dance-step, no, more like an amputation where the step just disappears, midair, although                      also the rest of the body is missing, beware of your past, there is a fiery apple in the orchard, the coal in the under-                      ground is bursting with                      sunlight, inquire no further it says, it wishes it were a root, a bulb, a closed fist – look how it fills                      with meaning when opened – then when extended – let us not                      go there – broken, broken – no to the imagination of some great                      murmuring through the soil as through the souls of                      all men – silent agreement which is actually the true soil – but there it is now going under – nothing                      will grow in it – the footsteps are washed away which might have attempted kindness or cultivation or a walk over the earth to                      undertake curiosity – that was our true gift to creation: curiosity – how we would                      dream eyes closed in fog all through the storm, then open up to aftermath, run out to see – & then of course too much, too                      much – too much wanting to know – sorry I did not                      mean to raise my voice – I will turn no further – you are making yourself punishable says the flood – I will                      drink it, I will, my God gave it me says the evaporation sluicing the invisible surfaces,                      in which clouds are being said, right into the shuddering of time, its so called passing – each land                      had its time for being born, each date a cage shrinking – until the creature has ribs that bend-in and a skull that is                      forced into its heart, & the rain is falling chattering pearling completely turning-in, turning, lost,                      & all the words that might have held it, it now                      flows through, & the rim of the meaning crumbles – & it is the new world you wanted – & it is beginning                      its life now ...

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 ...


Jorie Graham

25 February 2010
... Of the two dogs the car hit, one, two, while we were talking, and thinking about                      how to change each                      other’s mind, the other people’s                      survived – dark spot near the front                      fender just hair blowing in low wind, a spot all wind’s, then a stir in the ribs and everything’s rising slow-motion up from the tight small shoulders, the                      chest, the                      dragging hind end of itself on the dirt                      road as if sewing a new strap                      back on, dragging, a long                      moment, then the                      division occurs and the wide perishing shrinks and the legs                      are four again and                      up ...
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 ...
21 October 2010
... From                                  the still wet iron of                                  my fire                                  escape’s top railing a truth is making this instant on our clock                                  open with a taut                                  unchirping un-                                  breaking note – a perfectly                                  released vowel travelling the high branches across the way, between us and the                                  others, in their                                  apartments, and fog lifting for sun before evaporation                                  begins ...

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