Three Poems

Poetry / Joseph Massey

:: Turned ::

                    A notch
                    at the top of the mountain—

                    the eye
                    without a thought

                    threads the sky through.

                    How hours take

                    the stain of hours
                    and hold beneath their glare

                    these things arranged
                    to resemble a season.

                    Summer’s hum and lag.

                    To walk into it—

                    breathe the frequencies
                    that knot the air, another

                    animal baffled
                    to be an animal.

:: Curtains ::

                    No silence
                    in the house.

                    No house
                    in silence.



                    into dust—
                    the drift

                    of it—
                    which is

                    not a

:: On Migration ::

                    A split glyph
                    drags south
                    over a parking lot.

                    The suction
                    of dusk.
                    We watch it

                    from margin.

                    Your face
                    in the half-light.

                    The aphasia
                    of the shape

                    of your face
                    in the half-light.

                    the hour.


From the writer

:: Account ::


After twelve years of living in an almost always temperate and fog-thick micro-climate on the coast of Humboldt County, California, I returned to the East Coast. I’ve been startled by the seasonal shifts, something I forgot about after those years of living where there are only two long, slow pseudo-seasons: sun (with equal parts fog) and rain (with even more fog).

Summer on the East Coast in particular rattled my nervous system—somewhere between afflatus and dread—and this poem is a record of that response. The vibration of the sun, the heat, the raw stink of earth within it, rendered me partially thoughtless—just another animal.


As Wallace Stevens put it, “Silence is a shape that has passed,” but it’s not an inhabitable shape—there’s no such thing, anyway, as silence (ask John Cage)—and yet the house, the room, any space at all, any utterance, any form, depends upon it. This poem was an attempt to locate silence and is activated, I hope, by its failure.

“On Migration”

“Death is not final. Only parking lots.” —Jack Spicer


Joseph Massey is the author of Areas of Fog (Shearsman Books, 2009), At the Point (Shearsman Books, 2011), and To Keep Time (Omnidawn, forthcoming in 2014). His work has also appeared in various journals and magazines, and in the anthologies Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams (University of Iowa Press, 2011) and Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013). He lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.