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

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.

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