Believe it or not, out on Sixth Ave., the poplars
are shedding their leaves & leaves are vital organs,
if you’re a poplar. If you’re an organist,
leaves are accompaniment. When we sleep, we are
ever so alone. On cement sidewalks, a single leaf,
decomposing, makes a carbon copy. Two
leaves, decomposing, make one hell of a slippery mess
(excavate one shell, it’s a trinket; excavate
a trillion, it’s unleaded). All language maps
distance. All nature simulates art. At the body’s core,
the heart stirs: Earth, that assemblage in motion. When
a body dies, who can believe it at first?
When a temblor diffuses, the body trembles.
It rings like a bell. If you’re an organist, bells
are accompaniment. If you’re a poplar, bells
are accompaniment. Sixth Avenue is a river of stone,
though, true, it flows rather slowly. Music is logic
divided by time. If nothing else, time is
a sleeping child. All sleeping children sigh & rustle,
susurrate & groan. They want to grow old, older
than trees. A scream is nothing, nothing but a sign of belief.
A 2017-2019 Stegner Fellow, JP Grasser is a Doctorow Fellow and PhD candidate at the University of Utah, where he edited Quarterly West. His work was recognized with the inaugural Treehouse Climate Action Poem Prize from the Academy of American Poets and Frontier Poetry's 2019 Open Prize, among other honors and awards. He lives in Montana's Bitterroot Valley and serves as an Assistant Editor for 32 Poems.