Conjunctions:35 American Poetry: States of the Art

Six Poems
The following appears with five additional Graham poems in Conjunctions:35.
She was being readied by forces she did not
recognize. This is an age in which imagination
is no longer all-powerful. Where if you had
to write the whole thing down, you could.
(Imagine: to see the whole thing written down.)
Everything but memory abolished.
All the necessary explanations also provided.
A very round place: everyone is doing it.
“It: a very round and glad place.
Feeling life come from far away, like a motor approaching.
And in its approach: that moment when it is closest, so loud, as if
not only near you, but in you.
And that being the place where the sensation of real property
begins. Come. It is going to pass, even though right
it’s very loud, here, alongside, life, life, so glad to be in it,
no?, unprotected, thank you, exactly the way I feel.
And you? Lord how close it comes. It has a
                                              seeming to it
so bright it is as if it had no core.
It all given over to the outline of seem:
still approaching, blind, open, its continuing elsewhere unthinkable as a
                                                                                        at this speed.
Approaching as if with a big question.
No other system but this one and it growing larger.
All at once, as if all the voices now are suddenly one voice.
Ah, it is here now, the here. [Love, where is love, can it too
be this thing that simply grows insistently louder]
[It seems impossible it could ever pass by][she thought]
the eruption of presentness right here: your veins
[Meanwhile a dream floats in an unvisited field]
[There by the edge of the barn, above the two green-lichened
stones, where for an instant a butterfly color of chicory
                                                         flicks, dis-
appears] How old-fashioned: distance: squinting it
view. Even further: rocks at year’s lowest tide.
The always-underneath excitedly exposed to heat, light, wind, the
being-seen. Who could have known a glance could be
so plastic. Rubbery and pushing down on all the tiny hissing overbright
O sweet conversation: protozoa, air: how long have you been speaking?
The engine [of the most] is passing now.
At peak: the mesmerization of here, this me here, this me
passing now.
So as to leave what behind?
We, who can now be neither wholly here nor disappear?
And to have it come so close and yet not know it:
how in time you do not move on:
how there is no “other” side:
how the instant is very wide and bright and we cannot
get away with it—the instant—what holds the “know”
[as if gently, friend, as if mesmerized by the love of it][love of 
(not) making sense](tide coming in)(then distance taking
                                                        the perplexion
                                                        of engine
whitely in)(the covenant, the listening, drawing its parameters out
just as it approaches its own unraveling)
the covenant: yes: that there be plenitude, yes,
but only as a simultaneous emptying—of the before, where it came
from—and of the after (the eager place to which it so
“eagerly” goes). Such rigorous logic, that undulating shape
                                                          we make of
                                                          our listening
to it: being: being on time: in time: there seeming to be no actual
all of it growing for a time closer and closer—as with a freight
                                                                of sheer abstract
                                                                abundance (the motor
sound)(is all) followed by the full selfishness (of such
                                          well being) of the being
(so full of innocence) actually (for the instant) here:
I love you: the sky seems nearer: you are my first
let no one question this tirelessness of approach:
love big enough to hide the cage:
tell them yourself who you are:
no victory: ever: no ever: then what “happens”:
you can hear the hum at its most constant: steady: the era:
                              love bestowed upon love close-up:
(quick, ask it of heaven now, whatever it was you so
                                                         wished to
know) the knowing: so final: yet here is the road, the
                                             context, ongoingness,
and how it does go on regardless of the strangely sudden coming un-
                                                                                       done of
its passing away.
Silence is welcomed without enthusiasm.
Listening standing now like one who removed his hat
                                                      out of respect for
                                                      the passage.
What comes in the aftermath they tell us is richly
No need to make a story up, for instance.
We have been free now ever since, for instance.

Jorie Graham is the author of many collections of poetry including Never (Ecco/Harper Collins).