The Present Happens to Be


For the present happens to be. With consequences in the paradigm shift this happens to be.

Model Ts putter over the steel bridge between centuries. And suddenly nobody’s gigantic or small.

And everyone’s so much alike that anyone in the future will have trouble telling us apart.

There could and should be room for all, enough water and food. If we were smart.

Should each moment fit into the whole? What happens is impossible to see without science and long-term contemplation.

Stay here longer. Too much will vanish if you go.

Replacing fire with electrical current is natural.

Heavy darkening reaches roots able to use it.

What moves ahead is this chance.

What should I change. What can I do? How do I make up for what I’ve received? How can I not try?




Digits click through transience of self. Overworld waters alter further endangered species. Unknowing makes long moves of meaning quick as the flash of blood ties. Transcendental birth into arms of the mother has a little grip. And all things must fall in between.

As time goes on within eggshell memory, as molten as sleep is with waking, a century of advancement keeps waving goodbye to the old days driving off in the family Hudson which disappears with the grandchildren after rounding the green corner.

The next grains continue to arrive on a quantum slipstream, rewriting the effects of ignorance and its significant other, arrogance. At least around meal times this may be true. As working fingers and thumbs flip through months on their calendars, a great longing is triggered, for years when the hearth fires were burning, when innocence was more intact in the long days before discovery of microorganisms.

Flying over as we are, in these multiply-winged volcanically erupting neighborhood transport jets, who can say where we’ll touch down next, in the midst of what conquest or abrupt colonization, what professional cotillions or bountiful flowerhead pungency, what usurpation or liberation?

Will we hear the human voice return in the midst of bell ringing or gourd shaking to say, This is the place, the more-than-enough place, where you’ll keep the fire and eat, where you’ll wake and then sleep?


James Grabill

About James Grabill

James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals such as The Oxonian Review (UK), Stand (UK), Magma (UK), Toronto Quarterly (CAN), Harvard Review (US), Terrain (US), Seneca Review (US), Urthona (UK), kayak (US), Plumwood Mountain (AUS), Caliban (US), Spittoon (US), Weber: The Contemporary West (US), The Common Review (US), and Buddhist Poetry Review (US). His books include Poem Rising Out of the James Grabill’s recent work is online at the Buddhist Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Terrain, Urthona (UK), Shenandoah, The Oxonian Review (UK), Stand (UK), East West Journal, The Common Review, Toronto Quarterly, Elohi Gadugi, Oxonian Review (UK), Plumwood Mountain (AUS), Caliban, Spittoon, Weber: The Contemporary West, and many others. His books include Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994) and An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), both from Lynx House Press. Wordcraft of Oregon has published his new project of environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Book One, 2014 (available online -, Book Two, 2015 (now available). A long-time Oregon resident, he teaches 'systems thinking' and global issues relative to sustainability.
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