james copeland





I saw the bones of Ohio begin to glow

Beneath a pulmonary night. With a limp hand,


Stretched up direct into darkness,

I felt the contours of the frozen wind


As my stomach rolled down into the valley.

The toes inside my shoes were growing old,


My knees increasingly soft and sticky

Like a dentist’s hand, and my chin


Remained alone, mute and vulnerable…there seemed nothing to do

But sink further into the reinforced air,


Like a messiah walking out onto an expressway.

Birds were coughing and drifting around.


One came stumbling straight into my chest

And didn’t apologize. A pine tree


Interrupted its whispering to watch me become aware

Of the jigsaw totality of real estate. Like a piece of algae


Stuck to the face of a champion swimmer,

My mind couldn’t have been closer to the present,


My eyes couldn’t have been more focused

On the sprawl. I’m part of this luminous spittle,


I thought, and I could sense in the center of my palm

A quiver that belonged to a larger ventricle,


A piece of the breakneck American land, an organism

That drinks and sweats and experiences drama.


The proof was: nothing was required of me

Except to stare into the almost infinite twinkle,


Except, even then, I wished to do something simple.

I wished to walk over to a bench and sit down.


I wished to glide my fingers between the pages of a book

I would never read, and exchange phone calls


With my forbears, standing around in attractive wildernesses,

Holding axes and babies, as we described our lives


In silver tones, and discussed the massiveness of sleep.

And when I startled into my clothes, returning


To the electricity of the moment, the municipality par excellence,

Its bristling power load again causing the flaw of hunger


To spread its cracks through the whole of my chest,

Yes, I would look down to discover a pile of steaming food


Right there, already half way jammed into my mouth,

And Ohio, my history, my home, would glisten on my lips.