City highways take the future
around the bend of the river
of money. Women assume further control.
The next human world aims its nuclear
torpedoes, as transcontinental jets
haunt the place, taking off and landing
on autopilot. Sons decide they’re daughters,
while the compass spin undergoes
its heavy journey across the charred
proving grounds of spring. Beetles burrow
into trees high up, where winter ends
and may return less often. Alien weather
balloons crack into a dimensionless chill.
Elk herds edge north, as the north pole
down-drains into newly claimed shipping
lanes. Parabolic receivers scan for eyes
of doubt over ends and their means.
Blue-suited company men gas up directly
removed from undead talk of extinctions.
A long hot kiss familiar with liberated
hip bones wavers before the collapse
of procreative love. Forebears continue
to break up and drift off from work shoes
and overcoats. Habits that grew out of fear
into lifestyles refuse to reveal their North
American arrogance in its rainwater
spend-drift street-carried flatness
under shirts and blank-slate asking
for reassurance around petroglyphs
that dwarf the possible ways to feel.
James Grabill’s work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. Books – Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994), An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), Lynx House Press. Environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Books One (2014), Two (2015), Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.