I love diagrams. I often find myself captivated by them, be they in encyclopedias, atlases, how-to books. Maps, similarly, have always been wonderments to me. The artifice of a diagram, a visual schematic that represents something like a unit of machinery or or an electrical component, is concerned with translation. They are symbols of the most direct kind, and they share that quality with poetry, of what poems seek to do with language. A poem evokes an experience, an idea, an emotion in verse the way a diagram evokes a thing. I enjoy taking diagrams and making my own small translations of them in prose poems. —James Grinwis

EARPHONE (converts electrical energy to sound)

Two off-road vehicles shoot into the cave, inside of which lives only mystery, somehow predictably quiet though the vehicles riddle it with emanations and spurts. I spend each evening by the wood stove, the wind at the window pushing the dead leaves to and fro in constant reminder of things I don’t want to do and things I’d really like to do but can’t. Inside the sculpture, a noise encircles the ear like a twirler, and inside the ear of the sculpture a meditation occurs.


It was redoubtable. The prongs jammed into it were ambiguous of form though solid of shaft. They seemed to channel the supple root of a sad unknown. One was tired, it was like what one had thrown his heart into: dependent on things that don’t come.


I built this little raft on the sea and tilted it sideways and somehow it floats. But not in this dimension. What was happening was this: what was happening was this.


Two thick spines stick out from the mouth of the cave. There is a thick door a little ways into the cave and it must be pried open to unleash deeper silence in which our selves might enmesh. The adventuress slip a bit on the rivulets of charge that trickle across the stones. Someone hoped for a maniac to bring some life to the scene, but he was far off, jerking around. Then his TV whirrs out and he starts to bang it; bang, bang bang, he is actually banging the TV now. What was he, before he became a maniac.

James Grinwis is the author of The City from Nome (The National Poetry Review Press) and Exhibit of Forking Paths (Coffee House/ National Poetry Series). He co-founded Bateau Press in '06, and his poetry and hybrids have appeared in many magazines such as American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, The Literary Review, New Orleans Review, and many others. He lives in Greenfield, MA.