Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

We’ve Had Uprisings of Needs

To wash our hands of the medieval apple, to suddenly 

throw on the brake lights red as lips of apocalyptic 

religion, we’ve relied on the nuclear stars in alien galaxies 

that fill the other side of the the night sky with blazes.

To lift any embargos on nay-saying to the lingering gist 

of mystification, we require a little more than surrender 

to perfect pitch and precise science, a little more than 

donating time to graphic accounts of joy, and we might 

as well face it we may never learn enough about the human 

being to help end projecting on and profiting off one another.

From the desert eye on a rise of enigmatic regalia, from river 

eyes in circulating rainfall swum through water by salmon, 

we know we weren’t created in a magnetic flash that sent 

scalding chills through the bleachers, but as the result 

of a nearly infinite number of small changes that advanced 

or stumbled and a few major collapses in living conditions.

At the last moment, if Asian elephants step into the festival 

out of stillness, and industrial labs concoct for the warlike 

anti-Christians a cross that seems luminous, snow-white, 

when it’s bloody red, it’s another scientific marvel, to use 

as a deterrent or eat, when the masses are in great need 

of swallowing, For inheritances placed on shoulders of bees, 

as on the liberated parrot’s Amazonian bob, it’s impossible 

to not be impressed by scientific advances that make you 

wonder what else and whether the species will save itself, 

like in the old days, when it was easier to picture the future 

with the responsibility for acts projected onto the agency 

of another impossible-to-see force with a voice that sounded 

a lot like the unconscious brain. To break up well past cradling 

a newborn delivered with countenance, for the occidental ore 

catalytically cracked and colliding with blank-slate night, 

the volcanic amphitheater overlooks the stage where we act 

in the drama of everyone’s birth agony framed by Buddhist 

incantations spilling over a distended gargoyle tongue 

across the ocean from Abelard’s Doctrine of Intentionality.

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.