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.