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. Something’s always mumbling, stridulating into dust— the drift of it— which is not a song.
:: On Migration ::
A split glyph drags south over a parking lot. The suction of dusk. We watch it wrest margin from margin. Your face in the half-light. The aphasia of the shape of your face in the half-light. Autumn embalms 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.
“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.