James Bertolino

What is Grand
November 11, 2012 Bertolino James

What is Grand


1. The Seeds

Don’t mumble

like the pebbles of a stream,

nor murmur ripples into weeds.

Let sound be a trestle for truth

to cross over. Let it fruit

at the end of its branch,

be the very seeds we will eat

to grow wisdom.


2. Go Ask, Go Tell

Go ask the pony

why its eyelashes flutter

with pleasure

as the flakes of snow



Go tell the hound

to watch its own tail

count the cadence

that will bring

the Spring.


3. The Sought

When is the rock a pillow?

How can a cracked branch

bring the sought?

If dunes move like the tides,

and clouds spread insects that fall

as bright petals, are we nearing the end?


You know a voice as yellow.

An odor is the number nine.

The body that has long carried you

becomes an avalanche. What is grand has finished,

and your last breath

lifts its wings over the brink.

James Bertolino’s eleventh volume of poetry, Every Wound Has A Rhythm, was published in 2012 by World Enough Writers. He’s received the Discovery Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Quarterly Review of Literature book publication awards and the 2007 Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize for Washington State Poets. He taught creative writing for over 30 years at Cornell University, University of Cincinnati, Willamette University and Western Washington University. He retired in 2006 to full-time writing near Mt. Baker.