Grace Marie Grafton


I love to use the prose poem form when my thoughts are coming fast in the run-on, free association mode. The lineated poem I use when there's a strong beat, or a lot of disparate but related images I want the line to express. I think James Joyce wrote incredibly long prose poems in Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. Beckett, too, and Ondaatje in The English Patient. I love it when I'm pulled non-stop into a vortex of thought/feeling/image and, in the end, reach several places I had no notion of getting to when I began.





Let us reject fingernail polish as a subject worth attention. Sunday morning, neighbors talk too loud in their unredeemed kitchen, Bryce Canyon’s April-candy spires glimmer in the high plains, August haze, my refrigerator’s hum ubiquitous, triviality abounds. A Harris hawk nonetheless hovers in the Southwest, keening after field mouse or prairie dog, here sunlight nips through fog, I’m dissatisfied in the midst of a fine life, teeter-totter bread and water.

Trees form the playground of my life: pepper tree, walnut tree, fir, madrone, the eucalyptus where I spied an urban owl, redwoods I travel for, jeffrey pine, ponderosa, oaks – valley, black, live and white. The river trees – cottonwood, alder, willow. I employ lists to wrap green closer, eliminate summer malaise when dust dominates and grape leaves begin to curl.

I’ve never been comfortable with harvest time, grapes’ sweet smell too strong, Mother critical of my heavy feelings, heavy body, my heavy grandmother born in August eating watermelon. Watermelon needs refrigeration, my aunt sans electricity lived with only an icebox. Lift the burlap veil off the block of ice, its chill expands toward fingers and face, frozen water’s personality cold, blue, star-like.

Stars offer a different perspective, we call actors stars because we think their lives unattainable. I wish to be unattainable some days, wish for dumb rest at my core, spreading like the aura off ice.


The farm

The cats caught the dragonflies and brought them to the porch. The one I picked up so freshly dead the globe-shaped eyes still refracted light - magical strobes – and the body seemed in no way broken. They were easily caught because the dragonflies took lawn for meadow and hovered, instincts untrained for housecats who brought the gift of the newly-dead back to the den and I took it as gift. By next morning the insects’ multi-lensed eyes were dull though the transparent wings continued glinting. Early June, pomegranate blossoms a month away, just a notion in the tough green stem. Those pomegranates grow their gigantic hips on the bluff past the shed where August grapes are packed by workers that have immigrated from a country whose every plant shoots up thick with heat, water and brilliance. These women’s dark hair calls out to pomegranate’s bright orange blossoms, these women’s white teeth and laughter equal the ruby kernels, the swooning juice. Fruitful workers still learning a way of life that will leave the pomegranates uneaten, split open, dropped on October ground where the last wasps, black beetles and furry little native bees – solo fliers – will suck and nibble the sugar into their bodies – their local, immediate, instinctual bodies.



Grace Marie Grafton’s poetry won first prize in the annual Bellingham Review contest, was a finalist for NIMROD’s Pablo Neruda Prize, and was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, ZERO, won the Poetic Matrix Press contest. Her book, VISITING SISTERS, was published by Coracle Books. Poems recently appear in The Modern Review, Ur*vox, good foot, Spoon River Poetry Review, and may be viewed at (also under G. M.Grafton.