Garth Graeper

Trees, light, weather, peopleMillions of warm vibrating chordsChance threads woven together in coordinated movementI close my eyes and try to feel my blood pumpingInstead I feel you, walking miles, melting into hills and flowersThe simple power of circling a lakeYou knew how to lose yourself, how to leave spaceWalking to find a way to be wholeBird song, leaves rustlingI fall into this moment, my atoms spun just soThis heartbeat is not mine aloneTwo bodies walkingTwo layers of sound in motion together, hundreds of years apartWords stored deep in muscle-memoryCarried in hunger, in bruisesReflected back by grass, branches, rocksHow do I get this voice out of me?

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Garth Graeper is the author of The Sky Broke More (Winter Editions) and two chapbooks, By Deer Light (Greying Ghost) and Into the Forest Engine (Projective Industries), which was featured in a New York Public Library exhibition about small press publishing. Explorations of place—real, remembered, escaped, imagined—are at the core of his poems. Graeper created a site-specific, handmade Park Book series based on places like New York’s Central Park and Battery Park, which he distributed surreptitiously. During a decade of work as a Brooklyn-based small press editor, Graeper designed and published translations of poets from Sweden, Norway, and Uruguay, as well as works of contemporary American poetry. Currently, Graeper is the Director of Development at a Pittsburgh-area nonprofit.

"The poems in The Sky Broke More document the difficult work of listening and the powerful attunement it achieves—with our beloveds, with the natural world, with the dead. Graeper's taut lyric braids human and terrestrial sound and sensation—heartbeat and howling, voice and storm, breath and birdsong—into something both beautiful and unsettled: 'a density of voices so absolute, you may hear it as silence.'"
—Nancy Kuhl

"In dreamlike, painterly lines, The Sky Broke More describes a world that is dying and burgeoning all at once, where "sap and blood" mingle, and where 'one / pale blue flower / on the black / blooms.' Instead of finite endings, there are metamorphoses and—often painful—rebirths, while a terrible and wondrous hybridity holds sway. All is in flux but for one element: voice. In these urgent, deeply felt poems, the artistic urge is what buoys us, and lasts."
—Laura Sims

"Garth Graeper writes a beautiful, unsettling kind of nature poetry that can only be written by someone who digs into the dirt, tuning into the sounds, smells, textures and shapes of the natural world. What Graeper finds running through this natural world is a kind of sensory language: the world speaks to the poet with its 'tentacles of language.' It's a physical language, and it is often violent. The poems take place in nature's 'blood rain' and 'carnage,' 'black marsh forcing/tongue/through tongue.' Graeper's poems are short but they are immersive, lively, and almost overwhelming."
—Johannes Göransson

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.