Forest Council

            Say in an ancient place, in an ancient time, we’re on the council. Say we’ve assembled to apply very old language to the question of the future.

            Our words are few and heavy, modified by moves of the arms and hands, looks of the eyes, and the back’s position relative to the ground and fire, and the face, one person to the next.

            Centers of words can be held by sense in the body. Beginnings of words can be punched, their ends rolled or delivered echoing what’s close. You might hear whistles or clicks, pops or groans, snapping fingers, rattles of snake or gourd, thump of a log or walking stick on bone.

            Words can be released instantaneously past smacked lips, topographic shifts of the face, in lift or fall of pitches when the old breaks through or presences conjoin, speaking through words.

            The language is a mystery, when it talks into thought and the speaker hears its standing. We know the words well enough and progressions of phrase. We know this enough to respect it, the sacred trust of it.

            So language works, as time spreads. Current time slows within the ancient place for which we have no name. It’s where we live, within us, not something else. It’s so close what grows outside is in.

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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