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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 6, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a set of poems responding to three works by the artist Michael Heizer: Dragged Mass; Adjacent, Against, Upon; and Levitated Mass.”
—Rick Barot

Dragged Mass

What are we supposed to make
of the granite block dragged across the dirt lot

behind a tractor that has been instructed
to build up a mound out of the displaced dirt, a mess

far away from what we would call the aesthetic
and more to do with the disturbance

of fresh graves or construction, the rock
so enormous it seems more conceptual than actual,

the way large things tend to be, the way scale
is a kind of assertion, the larger

the louder, and the smaller heartbreaking,
so that we want to imagine the theatrics of the dirt lot

back to the artist’s hand on paper,
the artist trying to transform desire into vision,

or a representation of something
like vision, one that makes us see the granite

and the hurt earth as images of the body, of gravity,
of what time does to the body,

which is to scour it, which must have something to do
with why I am looking at you now, asleep

among blue sheets as though it is any morning,
in winter light, in the light of the eye.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Rick Barot

Rick Barot

Rick Barot is the author of Chord (Sarabande Books, 2015). He directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, and lives in Tacoma, Washington. 

by this poet

poem

Because I am reading Frank O’Hara
while sitting on a bench at the Brooklyn Promenade

I am aware it is 10:30 in New York
on a Tuesday morning

the way O’Hara was always aware
of what day and hour and season were in front of him

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
he wrote

2
poem

The man sitting behind me
is telling the man sitting next to him about his heart bypass.

Outside the train’s window, the landscapes smear by—
the earnest, haphazard distillations of America. The backyards

and back sides of houses. The back lots of shops
and factories. The undersides of