This poem is taken from Stand 215, 15(3) October - November 2017.

James Grabill Three Prose Poems
Breaking Out of the Pen  
The rooster running the compound in back of us may be tough on the roost, but he’s punctual and unwilling to surrender. Of course, warding off chaos has never been easy.

For whatever reason, whether fed up or hungry, a determined hen decided to widen the gap under the fence. Maybe she pictured eating well or breaking out of the pen, escaping the autocracy or incorrigible pecking order. When the hole was ready, she dove under and made a run for it.

It may have been political, since others who’d had her back followed quickly. Up close, these chickens weren’t in bad shape, and didn’t look afraid. Nearly as tall as young kids in the neighbourhood, they looked at us, adjusting their binoculars, a camera crew in the yard, preparing to film the documentary.

A moment later, they were off like ostriches, racing to perimeters and back, calculating measurements, before sprinting north through the next yard then across the road, whistling off in a frenzy, as if no one could see them and no one would know.

The Idea of Allen Ginsberg  
It’s quite difficult to picture Allen Ginsberg as one of the neighbour boys or someone who’s dead but remains alive in numerous minds of my generation and minds my generation has taught or influenced in a café, where authentic expressions in syntax may breathe within speaking until they seem to have life and the author’s being discussed in present tense.
It’s harder still to imagine Allen Ginsberg studying humanity over time, across cultures, playing harmonium to the gravelly profundo in his fathered-up singing of yellow-paged Blake, journeying in vehicles of Detroit coast to coast on the turn of a month of jukeboxes, investigating the overcoat and derringer agency of Central Intelligence with human rights under its surveillance, flying on a Trans-American jetliner with Ferlinghetti to a Prague stadium to deliver lost disappointment and latest arousals before tens of thousands hoping to find the Beats, after reaching Western depths in Howl and Kaddish that heightened speech in recesses of bald-cheeked commissaries, before and after plumbing heights cross-legged with Chogyam Trungpa in Tibetan conjury and Black Hat recreation of Buddha’s breakthrough, with mandala offerings of the ritual continents returned by monks to the river.

But seeing Allen Ginsberg through eyes awash from a river of bucks that followed Reagan’s selection of funds in middle class hands to be siphoned up by expanding wealth might not pan out. In explorations of consciousness, after years working as ‘a psychonaut’, while he contemplated what was around him in modern and ancient contexts, did he reach a point he had to admit errors of his ways? Did he shave his chest, comb his hair back like Michael Douglas in Wall Street, then apply himself at Goldman Sacks? Did he soar to the heights of investment and thrive in higher echelons of PR firms, devoting his imagination to lucrative campaigns, donating his brain to material distributions on the side of supply? Did he recognize the futility and absurdity of dedication to writing and, calling people consumers, declare the victory of materialism?


The Absorption of Breath  
Unfathomable expanses exist above and around the uncountable people siphoned into communities on the ground. Under multiple sky-hot depths are heights of imagination where original artistry is brought to bear in the green instant, where skin is, where skin’s a long-term undertaking of synthesis.  

Is this the hole-woven abundance for which a contemporary needs to protect resilience of the open air and heavy crow landings as soft as the archaic blood-making in bones, or opaque thicknesses where a woodchuck goes, while impossible worlds freeze and burn in revolutions around other suns?

Reason follows Magellan around the global horn, planting unity that rips into old fabric and bares its breast in cosmic flux. As plumb-level joy or grief seldom care for pursuits of winning or losing, zeroed-out hungers spark down lightning arteries reaching across time, as longing resonates with absorption of breath, as the floor receives what violas resound, as dark circulation alights within every cell alive, as hard thought presses down in crimson history, as the crow flies on black-winged tribal robes, as lock-picked rituals orangutan the spectrum.

Where light expresses its foundation, every bird in the morning on Earth has watched the world reappear with singing.
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