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.