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The Grass

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Bouteloua black
grama grass red
chino side-
oats blue grama grass
hairy buffalo-
grass toboso three-awn
land’s dawn 旦 sun
over sand, tumble
wind-
mill witch- cup- saltgrass
plains love- indiangrass, prairie
cordgrass, pink pappusgrass, sprangle-
top green knotroot
bristle, bluestem, tangle-
head, sacaton
panicles
open, golden drop-
seed blooms desert winter-
grass, awns twist, un-
twist, such
syllables flicker
out of grass
: Nanissáanah
thirst, ghost dance
native
spirits, active
roots, footstalks
to soil as to site, stems
bend, range-
lands wave, seiche
fields sway, clouds
pass over-
grazed grass
staked, fenced
dries, weakens, dies,
fallen
crowns, the grasslands
what
comes to pass, ranch-
hand lands, live-
stock livelihood
wildlife gone, displaced, migrations
impeded, scales im-
balanced
the years
spread, each itself
hitched to everything else
in the universe
nodes
hollowed, drought-
land years, drops
on the hardpan
nature
is endless
regeneration
trichloris, muhly, switch-
grass, wind misses
沙 沙 shasha through the pass-
es, whispering seeds
will pass, will pass
within leaves
listening
grasses, not only
the revelation
but the nature behind
to sustain it, over-
land grasses seeds
spread and grow, rhizome,
stolon to sod, curly
mesquite cotton-
top, draft
to draft 草
ten thousand
grasses, 草 dancing
culms 草 of grass
florescence, sheaths
and blades whorl
flower to
flower, wild
grass, knowing
wind strips, slips
of time, the leaves
words weave, un-
weave the
grass

Source: Poetry (April 2017)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Grass

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  • Jeffrey Yang is the author of the poetry collections Vanishing-Line (2011) and An Aquarium (2008), winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. He is the translator of Ahmatjan Osman’s Uyghurland, the Farthest Exile (with the author), Liu Xiaobo’s June Fourth Elegies, Su Shi’s East Slope, and Bei Dao’s autobiography City Gate, Open Up. He is also the editor of the anthologies Birds, Beasts, and Seas: Nature Poems (2011) and Time of Grief: Mourning Poems (2013), and the collection The Sea Is a Continual Miracle: Sea Poems and Other Writings by Walt Whitman (forthcoming, 2017). Yang works as an editor at New Directions Publishing and New York Review Books.

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