"Ernst Swims in the Room" and "Hypnagogic Viral Proclivities"

Ernst Swims in the Room

Everything around here that’s Ernst
seems packed with waking and sleeping
out of the small rooms where anyone’s been
flipping through months on the calendar
where innocence already is thirsty and hungry
enough to practice classical violin in common
circulation of the air and water, of matter
in which light’s combined with cellular devices
for distribution where we’ve had hornets flying
hairy fuselages in their museum monotone
close to the ground being grows out of
until little bells are ringing on the reigns
of milk cows at the foot of towering forecasts,
Zoroastrians painting star charts to call on
wisdom, Methodists performing communion,
blue jays leaping to a next limb in quietness,
with a manatee grazing in the underwater
south, loping almost past neurological
Ernst releasing carp-eyed sleep lanterns
at the limits of dorsal quickening in curls
on the head that undergoes surrender
every day football gives people something
almost like war, making violence less
intolerable while tens of thousands pay
for tickets to sit on their taproots
in the bleachers where it’s goodbye​
to sweet Ophelia and addle-brained
President Lear with a grip on the Rights
of Spring leaving a number naked
and dancing before the unseen maker
in unfolding flow of blooming red
petals out of the seed center of sleep.



Hypnagogic Viral Proclivities

yes a strange no-time in no-continuum coughing out a uni-burst
yam cam dam-near goosestepped China hovering above buoyant Italian sinks 
to lock-down
what washes the chalk from board 
rooms and boarding houses of the little in no-time grasses
always washing their hands in the mycelial cumulus underground
where ya got a bit a snot snorted echoing into the fix 
an electrolysis train between the almy Alps of ancestral congress praying
on mantis feelers 
in cellular root hairs doing a little dance in a half drop of half rain
where moves are grows viewed speeded up through time
to show deciding
of cells themselves
elected states
breathing from the marrow
of the marrow
by and for the marrow
as it restates
what's started
in its own end zone
when the kicker returns to the vaults
of interpenetration 
as saluted Whitman at the start of an illustrious career of green horses
enough to bring
rips of rainfall down as snow
staff-stocked on stalks asway on overload 
info-reformation baking breads with branding irons in the hog-trotted dark
where pigs run free in the sanctuary of persons whatever the species 
when supplied with blankets for exquisite mammalian reassurance however much
mud's wallowed in swallows whaling in willows wind-swept in simple touch
when a finger contacts machinery metals on which thriving viral survival might take
place far beyond senatorial sensorial range of the big eyes 
adrift in tiniest waves
of tentacle splits spinning in screwball sweats humming to steamroom raps
white with business white in business of Grandpappa's steamship prows
icebreaking with melts with lunch
in the lurches of steeples
viral as medical substitutions of unstung stringers however the baby swims
in the bathwater pitch-plumb
for the knickers in venous splashes of bloods
for the saluting purposes of antiphonic reverberative predications plumb
so how may a minor 
insinuation of such unrefined gives in the take of sense on the offense 
pushing its weight over the threshold stoking anyone's Bunsen
wildfire burns aheating the crucible of ergoty choices
in the laboratory chances
a plan will appeal
not on behalf of its highers but higherlings​
in rangy inhalations of minions as microbiological as it gets
in the service of courts with ajudgment a narrow power of attorney above
piecemeal dinnertable lying cheating and draining the coffers dry 
from the dermatological dungarees out to the suit of ant-shell clothes
from the throttle of bowties to ballooning contractions
exponential in vacillations knocking on heaves of light breaking
at the coast of heaven's door
for the north country lay lady lay on the brass bed
rocked along with the watchtower semblance to reason
taking for its own just a little vacuum vacation
from thermonuclear withdrawal on its gypsy violin
in the gypsum mines
of accountancy 
while president Lear races our age naked as a jailbird 
in nursery rhyme race relations still ablaze on palatial grazing grounds
of a little grammar
school back in yous-um head
still as up and down record-breaking stocks in the village square 
posthypnotic with unacknowledged commonality
the likes of which may be detectable
but only if you're supplied with a testing apparatus
manufactured in evasion of the right
that has no right to take your life
in its unwashable hands
but it’s still one person one vote
for every ounce of wielded power you've got 
to spare from all the pocket
pool and advertised delirium which is yours to spawn
on behalf of sponsors tapped into the financial pipeline
fire-hosed into tank cars with hauls elephantine in heaviness
hauled by mammoth diesel explosion engines
down a strand of the overnight net
when your purpose is to have your net evade detection
of revenuers and other rats capable of broadcasting 
your back room proceeds 
against the pleasure of president Lear howling in a brass thunderstorm
after he's turned into a simpleton more simple
than his usual simpletonism​
groping below the belt for a quick handful
of what's down there kept warm and dry
in the devil's playroom
gone viral from all the fatherland ping pong
camouflage of the vastest project of extorted otherness the world's never known
for the little baby with her hands
in the bathwater scrubbing like Lady Macbeth to remove slings
and marrow tomorrow and tomorrow down to the marrow
that denies any responsibility stops in the stacks of oil-soaked bucks
autonomously happening where dogs run free of their masters
of war suffering a few disruptions of peace
but all of the machine 
bigger than anyone's
length of the finger
touching unconsciously
the eye or inner perifascial absence and presence of the bombshelter nose



James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and online at CalibanonlineTerrainonline, The Decadent Review, and others. He wrote four books from Lynx House Press including Poem Rising Out of the Earth (Oregon Book Award, 1995), as well as Sea-Level Nerve: I & II (2014 & 2015 – Wordcraft of Oregon), Branches Shaken by Light, Reverberations of the Genome, & Schoenberg in the Troposphere (2020, 2021, & 2023 – Cyberwit, India), Eye of the Spiral (2022 – Uncollected Press), Stray Dogs & Irreversible Cars (2023 – Atmosphere Press) & others. He taught writing and global issues relative to sustainability.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, May 3, 2020 - 22:45