Poems: Michael Grinthal

For Job From The Train

The particles are still my
Companions though they make
Up hurt, or filth
Or worse a low sky
That doesn’t and will
Not snow. The inhuman
Processes of the fields
Are making me have
To sleep and write. I barely manage
Vast memories of vanished
My friends
My friends if you have to
Collapse keep on collapsing into
Everywhere and all of
The salt-cracked roads
And lo
There arose a commotion
And noise of bones
Coming together bone
To its bone, and sinew
Was upon them, the river’s
Frozen smoke
And flood, strangling
Poor thicket and the mud
At the bottom of the
Quarry must be as hard
As broken bottles now
This goes too fast
For my little faith and flesh
Leapt upon them and on
Past the last house
Standing, still, fallen
Wire and the stockade fence
At yard’s end gathering rags
And rain, wave
Upon unnailed wave of
Erasing, breaking
Over the persisting
Illusion of a past, it’s all
Really there. Really, really
There. Okay? You just go on
And on. I will not work
I will work
On being stuck, here
Is a place I made
Out of shovel and chiffon
Ruffle and railway trestle
Shade to wait in, preparing
To face the dawn
Object to object
Trumpet to drum skin, leaf
To loaf, organ
To watch-movement, pilot
Light to prairie fire, anticolor
To panther, anvil horn to
Rounding hammer, breath
To glass, belly
Button to tongue, fist
To barnside, dust
To dust and past
Us now orgasm an artifact
Of the lens, my bones
Full of gluons, my loneliness
An arrangement of stones



            Vigil strange I kept 

            on the field one night



The rain does

Care for us nor

Is it our

Own I


What we said bright

As hammers


Our eyes as if this

Was the way

A song gets

Made No





And please

The belly the lever

And the storm

Into morning   No one’s anger

In the park

Tonight is uncontrollable

Nobody’s breathing

Stops   while your eye

Still tortures the light

Like a seed

The earth Hello

Hello each

Thing hello

Is the song

Hello The little bird


The little night


Little bird

Of my blood will not




An Earlier State Of Things

Vomit up
Wolves while wolves
At the brightening
Cold. It was Sunday
In the winter of
Our accidents. O
Thunderless valley inside
Of the buried plum
We waited
Ten days
For me to talk.
His teeth were bad.
The one discolored
Of morning gonged into the open
Of his dying
In our gladness.
In our mud. It rung
The length of us all
Night long so small
A peace
I disclose
It only to my wife
And my disease. What
Lunge what
Now recently begun
To touch the other end of him
When he sleeps, a light
That light can only
Soil. I only
Report this.
My molecules
Are the molecules of
Stones. That
Is an older discipline
Of screaming which
By this they are trying
To teach
To me now. The wild
Silence. The cold’s
Density squeezes
Flowers out
From zero. I also
Need to be here. Still breathing
The other side of breath, sun
Sun, turn the dirt
On. The burnt
Murmur, the
Coughs and soundings down
The wire



                   it is the god

                   in us that loves them

The slow hand bores

The hard board, so

Holed the rain

Falls, ancient

Regimes of

It falling.

It is autumn

In this vat

But still

Ever smaller

And meaner Augusts

Are coming

Now to find us out

Of what before

Us was in us left

To burn.

At times I do

Feel the others on my skin

And admit now

I didn’t know

It from music.

I put on the radio

To interrupt the dream

That I put on our boots

To have. What little

Thunder we are

Owed thrown

Against the wall and

Shot. Washed


As blood it was

My last

Lamb and it hurt it




The Dead Put On Their Summer Lives

This place
Of the hollow
Between the river
Is and river
Was waits only
Always for
Rain and the smell
Of the rain
Is in the animal. Mole
Swallow and phone
All listening
With a tiny
Disdain. So
We are endangered

To perfection at last
Under the airplanes
Huge ear. There
No question would be

What the old men were
Singing. The all
Laugh, the old
Bad vowel where

God hid
His sound. The founding

Of which the careless
Town still
Makes its talk (the girl

who jumped off the trestle
into the water

a train was coming
down the vanished track)

They had the Nike missile
Battery back there and before
That a brick factory, my sweetie
I heard

Them blow it up
And up in the night
Of rattling
Pictures. Is this

Of what they dreamed
Of when they dreamed
Of lying

In their ease on the locked
And leaveless ground? Blow
Now your kitchen colored
Hair out

Thou vast
Encrypted sissy
Get it dressed
Up in drumbeats, the rain
Blew the fires out
Before morning
Ray came after

Me with his wrench
And his friends
They tuned me up

Me town, to judge like prey
Among the handsome

To distinguish
Ash from laughter, beaten
Down from danced away

To sniff
The wind beneath
The sheltering kaboom




The thing’s hollow 


It goes on


Forever and oh


My god it’s full


Of stars So

Speaking repents

Of its hopeless hunt in the holy

Thicket and turns


But the voice

The voice, the blind-

Ness, voice

Won’t   Radicle


As sugar weather


Weather, broken

Bone weather

All morning

Long we bell and dangle

From that sky

That empties


And sky

Of crash of stone


Is another weather word

I learn in you

And learn in you till

The bed is wrinkled

And stinking as the slept-on


And the sun

The burnt

Taste at the end of us


Michael Grinthal’s poems have appeared in Jubilat, Realpoetik, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Syncopated City and other publications. He is the winner of the Rose Low Rome and Kim Ann Arstark prizes in poetry from Brown University. He has worked for 20 years as a community organizer and lawyer in the racial justice and tenants’ rights movements, and lives in Brooklyn.

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