Joseph Massey

introduced by Jessica Johnson

DIAGRAM readers, I submit to your schematic-loving neural circuitry the works of [Joseph Massey]. What makes one schematic more thrilling than another? For me the answer is completeness and connection, the diagram's ability to show a fuller picture than I already know and depict the relationship between its pieces in unexpected ways. Joseph Massey's poems occur in intimacy with the narrowest moments, but they illuminate those moments more completely than poems usually do. I read Massey's poems as models of perception. By including the perceiver as well as the perceived, they encompass something close to the totality of awareness and clarify the strange nature of the terms available.

—Jessica Johnson




Notice the damage
arranged in rhythms
that mimic
cohesion, edges
we think
to find our grip.
The way rain
decodes snow
banked against
the curb
—sewer grate
caked with mud:
a few small nouns
stuck there. Notice
traffic's under-
current of
static, silence
(as close as we
come to it) parcels
into speech. Notice
the sunbeam
split four ways
by a spent shrub
at the end of
an alley—all
of its rubble
sagging into
gravel, pinned
to the flash.




Posthumous in spring, I

collapse into other
rhythms, colors

—a palette unspooled

at the speed of
dreaming. Forsythia

webs each edge
and edgeless gap

of a condemned home.
A row of them

strained into a season
where I stand

ahead of where
I stood, the husk

of a word,
of the air,

of what was
or wasn't said.




for Michelle Gil-Montero

          Another snuffed-out town—
houses melted down into weeds                                            

                              The bare material


To reword the blur
ghosting the tracks


Snowmelt runoff
wedged thin


to the periphery


Memory mauls
the present

               Spring coming
          in, coming


Forsythia blooms
beneath razor-wire

We gain speed—



          Rounding a curve
it's the color—the color
of the water

          that saturates space
between two thoughts