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Poetry Focus On James Grinwis

Eyewear is very pleased, this rather grey April Saturday in London, to offer readers a chance to get to know one of the best of a new generation of American poets, with a selection of seven recent poems.

Grinwis is a significant American poet
James Grinwis (pictured) is the author of The City from Nome and Exhibit of Forking Paths, which was selected by Eleni Sikelianos for the major National Poetry Series (America) in 2010 and published by Coffee House Press in 2011. He co-founded Bateau, a letterpress journal and chapbook press, in 2007, and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. His work appears regularly in US journals and reviews, and has appeared in the UK in 20 x 20.


There is a scribe on an animal claw chair
surrounded by palm bearers
looking out on a landscape of creepy individuals.
My baby was growing up with the hunters
in a forest of snake trees.
A Titan 3 Centaur rocket
blistered off, peeled from the sky
a vestige of unknown. A series of abstractions:
nail them to a wall, she said. A real wall, as is found
in the hearts of men, she said. The truth in a single
shaft of sunlight. Okay, she sees the bonfire
in the tundra south of Oolik
and questions the motivations of the hunters
who have built it: to entice
bachelorettes to their bedsides, the fire
having the effect of a lure, or a hook?
Or much simply to make of darkness
a plaything? Because so large a fire
it must have powers beyond warmth.
It gets fuzzy, the interior
of a skull, like fishery workers
burning fresh bones on the dock. To dig
through vessels and wastes
in order to find things, that was what had to be done
though the dark was riddled with stars.


A stemlessness.
An opening like a dead dog on the cement.
Boniness as nation state.
Bellies of children.
One who knows the names of stars
another who knows constellations.
A stemlessness.
Troposphere. To write one word.
Suspended by the aroma of tea.
Fragments meshed into a hole
through which to breathe.
Cantique: a short, easy, popular song.
Algol, the eclipsing: spooky changes in brightness.
A Chaconne repeats a harmony.
A claymore is a kind of sword.
A stemlessness.
A soul torn apart by beaks?


Satie: “haunted by whiteness.”

Pieces froides, Son of the Stars, Gnossienes.
Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear.

My son, learning his alphabet, my daughter,
focused on plastic golf clubs out in the abandoned lot.
I was in the driveway, filling the car with piles of brush.

Avec conviction et avec un tristesse rigoureuse.

Reexamination: the art of it: like sitting in a dance hall,
surrounded by exuberance, pomposity, and mirth.

“Everyone seeks to transcend.” My friend this
was the nature of the country when I thought no, I love the country.

Scenes of greatness, scenes of many lights
leaping up.


Watching birds will bring infinite rewards.
You must wait and watch and it takes time
to let the world open up to you.
The way an extremely new member of the family
enters the familial consciousness: like moss.
A man just then let the world open up to him by becoming
a yawn, as in a bomb-proof box fully opened in a playground in the sun.
Also: My wife was driving and ran over the bird.
If I was driving, I thought, I would have seen him.


Conglomeration, as in sheet music
where each note serves the purpose
of another, the way a bunch of rocks
can fuse into one. Igneous rocks
are born from fire, metamorphic
from force. In Hindu philosophy
there is something like three waves
inside every person, in Medieval thought
there were four humors.
I was walking through town,
regret dropping off of me
like nematodes clamped to a defunct satellite
on the bottom of the sea.
There are times when one
seems only to have that kind of stuff.
The full-bellied moon did something
to the whole planet
that night of extreme leaving.
But a speck of one in a million,
a similar event going off somewhere,
like a dime store gum machine
dropping its bright red globes,
the kids scooping them out
and chucking them at telephone poles.


Men can beat the crap out of each other
then get hungry and treat one another to lunch.

When having an organ transplant
one will have a drug called mycophen
shot into the body
in order to keep the new organ there.

Immiscible means they just don’t mix,
but it sounds sexy and permanent.

“They’re passion was immiscible.”

In the aisles of the market place,
I passed a beautiful woman;
she was my wife once.

Having a hard time stopping to love somebody
is having a mean saint on a dead cloud inside you
that will get absorbed by other saints and clouds,

they say one can become a shield,
a stretch of sky, or a river.

When walking into a cave, it is good
to locate oneself and look around first.


It’s better when it’s bland, the relationship,
Christen said, the up and down nature
of being involved with someone
taking its toll in the very fabric
that takes it someplace. And squirrels,
they are very neat, running around like that,
like drummers, errant cruise missiles,
stuff. Like that word the elderly woman
said to you, going out the door of the five
and dime, ‘fuck you’ she said,
and that is okay, you didn’t mind it,
just wanted to let her feel at peace somehow.
When my dog goes chasing after a squirrel
I know it is hopeless, but then
she catches one, and it breaks my heart.
All this up and down nature to the universe,
it’s as if you were a gut instinct
mated to a way of philosophically
thinking about things. And there you are,
my friend, not making anything up,
looking for stones
that really look right at you,
as if they had eyes, which they do,
the eye of a stone
something not to be messed with.

all poems appear with permission of the author, and are copyright James Grinwis, 2013.
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