John Poch

Jorie Graham

No one likes to lie or be lied to.
—Jorie Graham
Once, I pressed my ear
against a doorframe in Iowa.
Picture a lover fresh from his beloved
trying hard to become a doorframe
through which that beloved will walk
and even sleepwalk. Listen.
Ants were eating the house,
and you could hear their fun.
The workers were so drunk with crunching
they would stagger out
from the baseboard like total tourists.
And I, a skyscraper.
The queen lay safe a hundred yards away,
which seemed a mile, while poem
after poem dropped from her body.
These were carried away
before she could mature them.
I am not obsessed with the queen.
I am not obsessed with the queen.
I am not obsessed with the queen.
She made me write this a hundred times
on the board after class one year.
The workers made fun and crunched.
The queen said, This boy is a liar;
now laugh at him. I stood
accused of imitating a doorframe,
of writing a sonnet.
I wish this were a sonnet.
I wish everything were one.
I stood there with my ear
like a flag on a pole
contemplating hospitality or revenge.
I chose nectar—that which overcomes death—
and I poured it on.



“Jorie Graham” first appeared in Rivendell, Fall 2003.