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Next Exit by Taylor Graham

Next Exit

On the Poetry of Taylor Graham:

"Taylor Graham's evocation of the natural world is considerably more than heartfelt, and her understanding of human frailty in its midst is unique among contemporary North American poets."
~Christopher Presfield

" 'Like an eye/behind the lashes of wild trees,' Taylor Graham's perspective is haunting, exquisite, breathtaking. Squinty 'backlit' poems in search of the lost, the dead and dying, the mind and body deconstructing itself. She never names the places and you've never known them described this way, but you know them like your last life, your remains still decaying right there in the bushes 'like something to covet.' The angels working, weeping, laughing."
~Sharon Doubiago

 

SEEING FOX

Among wood and dry stone, branches
like stiff snakes’ tongues, a web
of spider, forest walls in waves,

the focus is one live eye. Fox.
An instant, gone. Small birds
come back, complaining to the safe

shadows, the unstenched water.
No more joy of ruddy fur under a fall
of sun, no sizzle-samba

of whiskers, changing woodland
quiet into a dangerous listening.
In spite of rumor, Fox is gone

to the lethal edge of asphalt,
hugging berms and cover like an eye
behind the lashes of wild trees.

 

TRUCK STOP

This morning 400 miles from home
you had breakfast with half the waitresses
he’s loved, their hashbrown hair,
their sunny side up. The coffee reeked
of tap water, but their smiles
tipped up through fog. They’ll do a dozen
miles on shift, 300 laps of counter.

You paid your check and wondered
where to go from here, and how
on earth and whom to love.

 

BEFORE HE LAYS HIMSELF TO SLEEP

he strips off shoes and socks and trousers,
shirt and undershorts and skin
and tosses them in the wash;
removes teeth and gums, and drops
them in solution. Oh, they'll come out
spotless in the morning. He peels off
his scalp and smooths it over its form,
combing out the dark hairs singly.
Then head to toe he unhooks ligaments
and tendons, unlaces muscles,
lays each in turn in its place;
unwinds the organs and hangs them
out to dry. The lungs, deflated,
he drapes at large; extracts windpipe
with its gathered daily tunes;
the tongue curled speechless
in a stainless box; the heart and brain
in parchment. Finally he unclasps
the numbered bones, polishing
metacarpals till they shine.
He lets out wishes, lies and memories
to hunt in the dark of the moon.
And then he lays himself to sleep
between clean sheets,
and dreams empty and unadorned
through this night that's never
been before.

 

 

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