Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham teaches at Harvard.

Poem: ‘Are we’

Jorie Graham, 18 November 2021

Are we

extinct yet. Who ownsthe map. May Ilook. Where is myclaim. Is my history

verifiable. Have Iincluded the memoryof the animals. The animals’memories. Are they

still here. Are we

alone. Lookthe filamentsappear. Of memories. Whose? What wasland

like. Did it movethrough us. Something says nonstopare you hereare your ancestors

real do you have abody do you haveyr self inmind can you see yr

Poem: ‘Translation Rain’

Jorie Graham, 9 September 2021

I am writing this in code because I cannot speak or saythe thing. The thing which should be, or I so wishcould beplumbed fathomed disinterred from this silence, this ever thickeningsilence through which, once, the long thin stalks & stems, firstweaker weeds then branching &stiffening, steadying &suddenly sturdier –strong enough to carry the seen – the seeming...

Poem: ‘Cage’

Jorie Graham, 17 June 2021

They ask me why. They ask me againwhy. Why the last of. Why the last ofa time. See, it curls up in the doorway & isthe doorway. Then wind and snow and time – your only time –curl up in it. Then the howling. It’s sayingsee, here, in this doorway, look respectfully, it is yr cage. Saying here isyr openingthat cannot befilled, these holes where yr earsshould be, where yr...

Poem: ‘To 2040’

Jorie Graham, 18 March 2021

With whom am I speaking, are you one or many, what are u, are u, do I make my-self clear, is this which we called speech what u use, are u a living form such as theform I inhabit now letting it speak me. My window tonight casts light onto the snow,I cast from my eye a glance, a touchless touch, tossed out to capture this shine we

cast. I pull it in, into my memory store. I have lost track....

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham, 13 August 2020

see me what did u see did u scrape what I asked u for asked u to make me into asked &asked there is a name in the body of this blood-rush which u parse in-correctly, I know u think u connect the dots of my inquiry the date of the last revolution thepressure cooker the flesh the right temperature whom do u have locked away in the

basement this time – it is always the same answer they...

Poem: ‘Thaw’

Jorie Graham, 7 May 2020

There is a plot in the back of my building.Not the size of the asteroid.Not what fourhyper-crenellations of a reef would have held when there werereefs. It’s still here. I must notget the timeconfused. The times. There is a coolness in it which would have been newSpring. I can’t tell if it’ssmell, as of blossoms which would have been just thenbeginning, or of loam. Through...

Poem: ‘Whom Are You’

Jorie Graham, 10 October 2019

speaking to. What is that listening tous. I’d like to know whom to address. In this we callthe physical world. Is there another where the footfalls gofrom this stony path as it grows granular. They dis-

appear. The silence is ruinous. It seems there could be thunder hidden in this blazingblue, but it’s just dry wind reaching the field. I’d like to know again whom toaddress. To...

Poem: ‘Intimation’

Jorie Graham, 15 August 2019

Can this write the future, its ooze and stiffening. With

whom am I speaking. It sounds like a receiver off the hook

a long time. It’s weeping. And you can’t say please stop to the future, it will not

stop, it will not stop listening to you as you approach it,

always clearer always louder – please stop listening future, but no it does not

speak, it just leans in a...

stillness. Stillness in time. Rich concentrate. Late summer late-day light. Over but not on magenta. Of. Of dahlia-heads. Of serrated leaves trimmed gold. Plush stalk lost-still in non-moment. All awake but no wakefulness. Low. Small. Snug in flooding light. Unwilled. No speed of anything, no, no motion on surface because suddenly no

surface, all a mechanism yes but now neither on nor off,...

Poem: ‘When Overfull of Pain I’

Jorie Graham, 25 October 2018

lie down on this floor, unnotice, try to recall, stir a little but not in heart, feel rust coming, grass going, if I had an idea this time, if I could believe in the cultivation, just piece it together, the fields the sky the wetness in the right spot, it will recline the earth it does not need your map, the rows you cut into it make their

puzzled argument again, then seed, spring has a...

Poem: ‘All’

Jorie Graham, 30 August 2018

After the rain stops you can hear the rained-on. You hear oscillation, outflowing, slips. The tipping-down of the branches, the down, the exact weight of those drops that fell

over the days and nights, their strength, accumulation, shafting down through the resistant skins, nothing perfect but then also the exact remain of sun, the sum

of the last not-yet-absorbed, not-yet-evaporated...

Poem: ‘My Skin Is’

Jorie Graham, 5 July 2018

parched, on tight, questioned, invisible, full of so much evolution, now the moment is gone, begin again, my skin, here, my limit of the visible me, I touch it now, is spirit-filled, naturally-selected, caught in the storm here under this tree, propped up by history, which, I don’t know which, be careful, you can’t love everyone –

brought to you by Revlon, melancholy,...

Poem: ‘Tree’

Jorie Graham, 8 February 2018

Today on two legs stood and reached to the right spot as I saw it choosing among the twisting branches and multifaceted changing shades, and greens, and shades of greens, lobed, and lashing sun, the fig that seemed to me the perfect one, the ready one, it is permitted, it is possible, it is

actual. The VR glasses are not needed yet, not for now, no, not for this while longer. And it is warm in...

Poem: ‘From the Transience’

Jorie Graham, 2 November 2017

May I help you. No. In the mirror? No. Look there is still majesty, increase, sacrifice. Night in the flat pond. Moon in it/on it disposing entirely of mind. No. Look there is desert where there was grassland there is sun-inundation like a scrupulous meditation no message just mutter of immensity where it leaks into

partiality. Into you/me. Our boundaries now in the epic see-through, how they...

Poem: ‘I’m Reading Your Mind’

Jorie Graham, 13 July 2017

here. Have been for centuries. No, longer. Everything already has been. It’s not a reasonable place, this continuum between us, and yet here again I put the olive trees in, turn the whole hill-sweeping grove down, its mile-long headfuls of leaves upswept so the whole valley shivers its windy silvers,

watery … A strange heat is upon us. Again. That was you thinking that. I

Poem: ‘The Mask Now’

Jorie Graham, 3 November 2016

Dying, Dad wanted sunscreen. Nonstop. Frantic if withheld. Would sayscreen, and we just did it. Knew he was dying. Was angry. In last weeks wore red sleepmask over eyes day and night. Would ride it up onto his forehead for brief intervals, then down, pulled by hand that still worked. A bit. Sometimes shaking too much so just cried eyes. Cried now now. Once cried out light – more like a...

Teasing out the possible linkages I – no you – who noticed – if the world – no – the world if – take plankton – I feel I cannot love any more – take plankton – that love is reserved for an other kind of existence – take plankton – that such an existence is a form of porn now – no – what am I saying – take...

Poem: ‘WE’

Jorie Graham, 8 January 2015

lost all the wars. By definition. Had small desires and fundamental fear. Gave ourchildren for them, paid in full, from the start of time, standard time and standardspace, with and without suspension of disbelief, hungry for the everyday, wideawake, able to bring about a state of affairs by bodily movement, not even gradually,not hesitating, not ever, gave brothers fathers sisters mothers....

Poem: ‘Deep Water Trawling’

Jorie Graham, 9 October 2014

The blades like irises turning very fast to see you completely – steel-blue then red where the cut occurs – the cut of you – they don’t want to know you they want to own you – no – not own – we all mean to live to the end – am I human we don’t know that – just because I have this way of transmitting – call it voice – a...

Poem: ‘Honeycomb’

Jorie Graham, 23 January 2014

Ode to Prism. Aria. Untitled. Wait. I wait. Have you found me yet. Here at my screen,...

Poem: ‘Double Helix’

Jorie Graham, 26 September 2013

            One bird close up by the house    crow makes the wall’s temporariness             suddenly exist             one call into the arrival of the storm the announcing by flocks and...

Poem: ‘Lapse’

Jorie Graham, 22 March 2012

It is entirely in my hands now as it returns like blood to remind me – the chains so soft from wear, in my right, in my left – the first time I, trying for perfection, of balance, of symmetry, strap your twenty-two pounds of eyes, blood, hair, bone – so recently inside me – into the swing – and the sun still in the sky though it being so late as I look up to see...

Poem: ‘Employment’

Jorie Graham, 8 September 2011

Listen the voice is American it would reach you it has wiring in its swan’s neck                where it is                always turning round to see behind itself as it has no past to speak of except some nocturnal journals written in woods where...

Poem: ‘Torn Score’

Jorie Graham, 17 March 2011

I think this is all somewhere inside myself, the incessant burning of my birth             all shine             lessening as also all low-flame             heat of love: and places loved: space time and people heightening,...

All around in            houses near us, the            layoffs,            the windows shine back            sky, it is a            wonder we...

Poem: ‘The Bird on My Railing’

Jorie Graham, 21 October 2010

From                                  the still wet iron of...

And that you hold the same one hawk each day I pass through my field             up. And that it             may choose its             spot so freely, from which to scan, and, without more than the wintry beguiling...

Poem: ‘Untitled’

Jorie Graham, 25 February 2010

Of the two dogs the car hit, one, two, while we were talking, and thinking about                      how to change each                      other’s mind, the other...

Poem: ‘Day Off’

Jorie Graham, 3 January 2008

from the cadaver beginning to show through the skin of the day. The future without                      days. Without days of it?                      in it? I try to – just for a...

Poem: ‘Nearing Dawn’

Jorie Graham, 4 October 2007

Sunbreak. The sky opens its magazine. If you look hard                      it is a process of falling                      and squinting – & you are in- terrupted again and...

Poem: ‘Underworld’

Jorie Graham, 19 July 2007

After great rain. Gradually you are revealing yourself to me. The lesson carves                      a tunnel through an occupied territory. Great beaches come into existence, are laved for centuries, small...

Poem: ‘Futures’

Jorie Graham, 5 July 2007

Midwinter. Dead of. I own you says my mind. Own what, own

                    whom. I look up. Own the looking at us

say the cuttlefish branchings, lichen-black, moist. Also


Poem: ‘Sea Change’

Jorie Graham, 7 June 2007

One day: stronger wind than anyone expected. Stronger than           ever before in the recording           of such. Un- natural says the news. Also the body says it. Which part of the body – I look           down, can...

Two Poems

Jorie Graham, 8 March 2007


Deep autumn & the mistake occurs, the plum tree blossoms, twelve blossoms on three different branches, which for us, personally, means none this coming spring or perhaps none on just those branches on which just now lands, suddenly, a grey-gold migratory bird – still here? – crisping, multiplying the wrong air, shifting branches with small hops, then stilling –...

Two Poems

Jorie Graham, 6 January 2005


(Attempt of 6 June ’03)

I wake and one of them is still there, still talking, sudden jolts of hand as if to slap open the air, garbage waiting at the curb, myself a slave, still, yes, I check, a slave, mist on the hedgerows, stubblefields between. A slave. Beyond, the village still asleep. That I can say the word village. Thorns disappearing now under the last of the blossoming....

Four Poems

Jorie Graham, 5 July 2001

The Complex Mechanism of the Break

From here, ten to fourteen rows of folding and branching. Up close, the laving in overlappings that pool sideways as well as suck back. Filamentary green-trims where the temporary furthest coming-forward is lost. Suctions in three or four different directions back from pinnacle-point. Encounter of back-suck by the foremost, low-breaking, upstitching really,...

Poem: ‘Underneath (13)’

Jorie Graham, 29 July 1999

needed explanation because of the mystic nature of the theory and our reliance on collective belief I could not visualise the end the tools that paved the way broke the body the foundation the exact copy of the real our surfaces were covered our surfaces are all covered actual hands appear but then there is writing in the cave we were deeply impressed as in addicted to results oh and...

Poem: ‘Which but for Vacancy’

Jorie Graham, 31 July 1997

Again today the dream. But of what? The dream like a long slim tunnel we lay ourselves down in – the lilies in the dust, the face that seems to shine in the linoleum – blue – the thing we would strip down to if – the melting snow allowing, the faint falling-sound receding … But the nature of the dream will not appear for us. It lightens the air immeasurably as...

Poem: ‘Thinking’

Jorie Graham, 20 March 1997

I can’t really remember now. The soundless foamed. A crow hung like a cough to a wire above me. There was a chill. It was a version of a crow, untitled as such, tightly feathered in the chafing air. Rain was expected. All round him air dilated, as if my steady glance on him, cindering at the glance-core where it held him tightest, swelled and sucked, while round that core, first a...

The new volume of poems by my Harvard colleague Jorie Graham, in its US edition, bears on its jacket a detail from Vermeer’s The Astronomer, showing the hand of the astronomer as it...

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Accidents of Priority

John Redmond, 22 August 1996

Famous poems, like faces, are a particularly memorable kind of introduction to the person they conceal. Like other kinds of introduction, they are often what we remember a person for, or what we...

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