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Ginseng seedlings up behind the house
Photograph by Reuben Cox

WHIT GRIFFIN: POEMS

Crawl Space

I’ve got this handcuff trick, I’ve
got this phantom pain…here. We
can watch the snow and forget the braying
beasts, cold and open.

Do you trust me enough to fall
in a dark room? Do you
trust me enough to feed you?
I am Abraham; there is nothing
caught in the thicket.

Between darkness and darkness
I pray into a copper pot. I sharpen
stones and breed camellias; don’t
touch the red one, I haven’t named it yet.



Lads, Back On The Horse

As fog gives back the mountain,
I devise ways to measure the weight of fire.
As things come apart in the mist, I learn
to value the names of trees close to home.

I’ve taken up this position because it’s easy
to defend. I can nurse my chicory and bourbon
and still tend to my seedlings.

It’s good, during an unjust war, to find
someone to share bread with. But I’ve
gone hungry many mornings just to feed the birds.

I’ve picked up windblown newspapers and seen
pictures of the burnings. I’ve rooted around
in darkness to find a man who’d accept
my small gifts.



Armor of Water

When music was young, elephants
were driven over cliffs, poets induced
to scream, burned alive inside bronze
bulls. There has always been violence
in the sublime.

A thousand sparrows have gathered and wept
on the site where I am to die. There will never
be enough spruce or willow to make the cellos
for my requiem.

Some believe a name with non-human
connotations will prevent Death from finding
you. Put me in a wagon bound for water.
Call my by the tree of my birth month.

Throw open the new screams and breed
flowers bright enough to keep our dreams
away. Sky is simply the space between birds.



Do This To Remove The Necessity of Heat

I’ve been monitoring this frenzy
several hours now. Watch the blue one,
movements just beneath the shadows.

In the drawn and quartered afternoon,
we take comfort in our unknowing.
My thoughts of the sun mean little to those
who’ve begun the knitting process.

We will be traveling into new mountains,
into a new alphabet. We must pray
special prayers into our coats.

It’s hard, even in the low notes,
to get free from such naked purpose.

Let’s touch the far end of our sound
and reach into the new dimension.
The summers we spent clothed were meaningless.



Co. Aytch

Before the maps catch fire, before
the peculiar indictments are levied, let’s
take water to the prisoners who make shoes
from sand. Let’s pour libations for the inventors
who color our passions.

Before the horses bed for the ten-year night, before
a ban is placed on new flowers, before
the army begins it’s new-found war, let’s
shave the geography of malice, and plant vegetables
that will grow beneath the surface of suspicion.

Before the official knocks on our door, before
I am given a weapon and asked to smite you,
let’s dance to music we create deep in our throats.
Let’s pull the blinds and dance, dance
with knives in our teeth.



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