Peter Grandbois


These days broken in me


There it is again, that old wound

Working deep within us, the song

Unwinding inside the aching

Edge of cicada cry—


Do you hear it?

Do you hear the tune?


The child self lingering beneath

The moon, pulling silk from its mouth—

Taut milk of spider web cocooning

Every transparent eye—


Do you hear it?

The psalm rough hewn?


Memory pained and stumbling crane

Voiced under the dying trees,

A veined map, unfolding, a face

Strewn with lies—


Do you hear it

Calling too soon?


Echo back the song why not

Try, lash bone to knot immune

Fly naught sky the loon, record each

Rainy afternoon—


Do you hear it yet?

The move toward ruin?


You’re not who you thought you were going to be

The song of something old and swift—
a grackle’s kiss—breath leaping over flesh
like prayer, like the runed voice of all you
feel, what isn’t your body but the past,

and the light you become in your dreams
bound between the black covers of old
sorrows flying with broken violins
for wings through the dark language of hours.

The self you loved when you were sure no one
was watching is a stone set deep in a lake.
Let wind-blown hands carve your insistent face
into the semblance of a distant god—

the world was made for your sake.


Once I Lived

Before the crow and
There were no answers
Once I loved before
The long grass and
Nothing was real
I have walked the path
Alone, in my life
I have pulled stones
From my pocket
Even as night creeps
Slow over the circus
Of the lost, moths
Speaking in tongues
Through hungry dreams—
And now time spins
Backward, and someone
Is calling, and there
Is no wilderness
With a map, and I
Swarm, or seem to,
Through the quiet
Falling of stone into
Water, waking into
Uncertain bloom,
Widening rings of
Fish watching, eyes
like empty rooms

Peter Grandbois is the author of thirteen books, the most recent of which is the Snyder prize-winning, Last Night I Aged a Hundred Years (Ashland Poetry Press 2021). His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in over one hundred journals. His plays have been nominated for several New York Innovative Theatre Awards and have been performed in St. Louis, Columbus, Los Angeles, and New York. He is poetry editor at Boulevard magazine and teaches at Denison University in Ohio.

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