Underneath (13)

By Jorie Graham b. 1950 Jorie Graham
needed          explanation
because of the mystic nature        of the theory
and our reliance          on collective belief
I could not visualize 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 dedication training     the idea of loss of life
in our work we call this emotion
how a poem enters into the world
there is nothing wrong with the instrument
as here I would raise my voice but
the human being and the world cannot be equated
aside from the question of whether or not we are alone
and other approaches to nothingness
(the term “subject”)(the term “only”)
also opinion and annihilation
(the body’s minutest sensation of time)
(the world, it is true, has not yet been destroyed)
intensification      void
we are amazed
uselessness is the last form love takes
so liquid till the forgone conclusion
here we are, the forgone conclusion
so many messages transmitted they will never acquire meaning
do you remember          my love my archive
touch me (here)
give birth to       a single idea
touch where it does not lead to war
show me    exact spot
climb the stairs
lie on the bed
have faith
nerves wearing only moonlight lie down
lie still patrol yr cage
be a phenomenon
at the bottom below the word
intention, lick past it
rip     years
find the burning matter
love allows it (I think)
push past the freedom (smoke)
push past     intelligence (smoke)
whelm      sprawl
(favorite city)   (god’s tiny voices)
hand over mouth
let light arrive
let the past strike us and go
drift        undo
if it please the dawn
lean down
say      hurt      undo
in your mouth be pleased
where does it say
where does it say
this is the mother tongue
there is in my mouth a ladder
climb down
presence of world
impassable       gap
I am beside myself
you are inside me       as history
We exist         Meet me

Jorie Graham, “Underneath (13)” from Swarm. Copyright © 1999 by Jorie Graham. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Source: Swarm (The Ecco Press, 1999)

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Poet Jorie Graham b. 1950

Subjects Living, The Mind, Love, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

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 Jorie  Graham


One of the most celebrated poets of the American post-war generation, Jorie Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts (1980), Erosion (1983), The End of Beauty (1987), Region of Unlikeness (1991), The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1992 (1995) winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Never (2002), Sea Change (2008), and Place (2012), among others. Born in New . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Love, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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