Between the slagheaps, the waste and the slack,
three grackles hunker down for anthracite
season to explode into full-blown swing:

veins nicked open at the seams (fault and lack
in solid stone), not quite black gold. I cite
metamorphic rock in defense of wing,

caw, and claw. They call it crow coal up north,
where the silken cloth of a man's bronchi
is dappled like snow beneath a feeder:

Sunflower seed reduced to powder-gray ort,
mined of potential energy; busted bronc
robbed of his wild for a nominal fee,

yet still robed in stipple, like the grackles
and their song, measured above the racket.



Love Song for the Damned


Come cretins and creatures, miscreants and misanthropes:
give up your revolvers, your clubs, epees and ropes.

You won't miss them where we're going. Behold how good
is the champagne flute, pinched between fingers, god—

like the package twine in danger of loosening up, bowed glass
swooped then settled into fragile symmetry. Noble gas

made manifest. Hell, let us dine. Let the upper troposphere
shine its light, like water, all over your tan shoulders. Here,

on this cloth, each drop settles, imprisoning reds and cooler
hues, prismatic cells, each a winking flirt of color.

Don't fear shadow. That's just where I'll tie the last one off,
say, in the dim corner of this dusty pub, image of

broken love. And when we're gone on wine, our spirits rise,
each bond shattered, wafers of air cradled on rye.





Sure, sound outstrips sedimentary thought,
sense re-wrought: alchemy in auricle:
animal's ear that became a chamber

of the heart, the heart that, with sense, ought
to meld into a shrine of near-auric
proportions, or slow-drip to an amber

stone of fire-hardened faith. Please forgive
my hollow bellows—oracular, plaited
musings on the auricular—but gold

knows only ornament. Let me then forge
new neural pathways, streets with lead-plated
gutters that reflect the gilt face of God.

Grace is guttural. And love? Gray matter,
gleaming with spring's new marigold chatter.

J.P. Grasser is originally from Maryland. His poetry explores the diverse regions he has called home, most insistently his family’s fish hatchery in Brady, Nebraska. He studied English and Creative Writing at Sewanee: The University of the South and is currently an MFA student in poetry at Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal, Cream City Review, Ninth Letter Online, The Collagist, and Nashville Review, among others.