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About this poet

In 1951, James Galvin was born in Chicago and was raised in northern Colorado. He earned a BA from Antioch College in 1974 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1977.

He has published several collections of poetry, including As Is (Copper Canyon, 2009); X: Poems (2003); Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 (1997), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Lethal Frequencies (1995); Elements (1988); God's Mistress (1984), which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Marvin Bell; and Imaginary Timber (1980).

Galvin is also the author of the critically acclaimed prose book, The Meadow (1992) and a novel, Fencing the Sky (Henry Holt, 1999).

His honors include a "Discovery"/The Nation award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Galvin lives in Laramie, Wyoming, where he has worked as a rancher part of each year all his life, and in Iowa City, where he is a member of the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop.

Station

James Galvin, 1951
 
1
Somewhere between a bird's nest and a solar system - whom did
the story use to fashion the crown of thorns, and did it prick
them?
     Whom did the story use for judgement?
                                          Whom for betrayal?

The slender silver filament of drool from too much Quaalude tethered
her chin to her shoulder.
                         When I came back she was sitting
on the couch, her hands turned up, her face turned away and down.

Every Annunciation is freaked with doom, flashed in crucifixion.

Because I left home she was allowed to keep pushing her face
through the windshields of collapsing automobiles, as if she
wanted to be born from a speeding car.
                                      All according to plan,
following the story in telling it.
                                  Pilate no more judges Christ
than he judges the air he breathes.
                                   He is nothing.
                                                 He washes
his hands according to plan, another symbol.
                                            It would be like
judging a cloud formation, the Grand Canyon, or an ant.
                                                      Like
washing less than nothing from your hands.
 
2
Its back was leaves that mimed the leaves in back of us, but
the chair was painted white - white as the snow that never
stopped falling in my ears.
                           The white leaves of the chair
that mocked the leaves of the backdrop, making us, for you,
the foredrop, imprinted leaf-prints on my bare back - white
ones.
     I held my gurgling sister in my lap, child whose cloud
I held as well, as the white wrought chair with its white leaves
sped us toward the sanctuary of damage.
                                       Can you, where you are
now, remember the garden chair I held her in for you?
                                                     We make
a crazy Pietà, my newborn sister and I.
                                       You step back.
                                                     In my
lap there rests a cloud of swaddling blankets like a shroud,
and on the cloud a laughing child.
                                  I squint and smile.
                                                     I'm round-
faced as a moon on a string, towheaded, slope-shouldered, vague
as a lamb and shorn like one.
                             The backdrop won't drop back
its ivied wall.
 
3
I was teaching my little sister how to fly when she broke her 
arm.
    I did.
           I lay back in the snow and put my galoshes against
her skinny butt and pushed her into the sky.
                                            Over and over up-
ward into the falling, and the fallen caught her, and her laughter
spilled.
        We got it wrong one time and that was it.
                                                 I said, "Now,
now."
     My mother's white station wagon disappeared into the snow
on its way to the white hospital, and the volume turned up.

Right now a spring snow falls and sublimes.
                                           The snowline retreats
upward like a rising hem of sky.
                                The snow is disappearing toward
me.

From Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997, published by Copper Canyon Press, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997, published by Copper Canyon Press, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

James Galvin

James Galvin

The author of several collections of poetry, James Galvin's book Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
We don't belong to each other.
		          We belong together.
	                                                                  Some poems 
belong together to prove the intentionality of subatomic particles.
                                     
Some poems eat with scissors
poem
                                                       Past
fences the first sheepmen cast across the land, processions
of cringing pitch or cedar posts pulling into the vanishing
point like fretboards carrying barbed melodies, windharp
narratives, songs of place, I'm thinking of the long cowboy
ballads
poem
Without external reference,
The world presents itself
In perfect clarity.

Wherewithal, arrested moments,
The throes of demystification,
Morality as nothing more
Than humility and honesty, a salty measure.

Then it was a cold snap,
Weather turned lethal so it was easier
To feel affinity
With lodgepole stands,