Nancy Graham

Acknowledgment is made to Invisible City, in which the following two poems first appeared.

At Home

That country is dear where your belly button fell out.
If you relax and enjoy yourself, you won’t sleep so much.
What you love is stupid.
Foreign countries are small.
Be the first to tire.
The narcissist gets in through a downspout.
Foreign countries are like snow, students, sand.
An infant’s first steps demand a giant forest.
That country is dear where force is my way.
Foreign language is a substitute for a dirty nun, how you pronounce forty-nine.
Foreign countries are like a stepmother, they don’t stretch, they affirm their right to nuns.
The infant’s first step will be its last.
At home, you strengthen your core.
At home, do you know what you can do?
I had no money. I want you to know that. All gone.
Foreign countries are alive. Like history. Like a calf. Like a sickness.
Alone, whether you have people or have yourself, put on their chain.
Or, all of a sudden, their floss.
At home, many choices will affect your dinner.
At home, even the songbird will solo more often.

Hallgató (a song for listening to)

Beginning in the dark, a whining storm precedes every person, every life, everyone. They laughed at your falling tears but somehow ripped two speeches from you. There is no such happy fellow in whose heart there never ceased to be a wise man.

The springtime was saying Who? You don’t know. The carrot and jelly came out, and the woman, attaching to your clothes. Traditionally, a rain shower clouded your heart. Lost in rain you served many letters but handed over only one. Some day yet, fate will pay you back for global amendments—to include:

Sometimes, far away, there’s room for you, across the rain trough, just, besides. Can a womb ink us? Now, in the paper, by the funniest light that everything in shadowland knows of. Then there’s no such happy fellow diffuse, opposite, aggressionly hating you.

Enters survival. Brother, mother, others survive. Sorrow curls o’er the land, like Beckett with a map, and you are not happiest. There you are against, we’re counting on you. An orphan smiles in fitches. We start about. Watch the flame, get your coat. My regular surface surfaces to take a collection in that rain where there is no such happy fellow in whose heart I will be fraught, nefarious.

11 Friendly Shadows
(from a collaboration with Michael Ruby based on “Texts for Nothing,” by Samuel Beckett)

   and hurts
        as if he didn’t quite
  didn’t know it deep in time

          what is this awareness of words
                    and churning
              each word a different

   forgive you for saying that
  about him
        but what value do they have
              thirty-five and a half

 who was that
      New York state
              belly friendly blues

but peekaboo

            a bed is something to embrace
    this evening made of
              what is this evening made out of auntie?
                  but what did this evening have to make itself out of?
        did he want to answer
              maybe you live in the one of the nicest
    just a wee peekaboo here,
                        I came back again

About the Author

Nancy Graham moved to Kingston in 2002 from Brooklyn. Notably, both cities have bluestone sidewalks, art supply stores and fine libraries. In NYC she worked as a media activist, advocating for alternatives to mainstream expression, from experimental filmmaking to independent news outlets to community-based writing. Her poems have appeared in Aught, BlazeVOX, Chronogram, Eratio, and in a chapbook, Somniloquies, available from Pudding House Publications, and her fiction in Prima Materia, Café Irreal and Orchid. She has been a resident at Blue Mountain Center. She is the blogkeeper of Oswegatchie and Alternative Films for Kids.

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