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James Brasfield

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James Brasfield

James Brasfield was born in Savannah, Georgia. He received a BA from Armstrong State University and an MFA from Columbia University. He is the author of Infinite Altars (Louisiana State University Press, 2016) and Ledger of Crossroads (Louisiana State University Press, 2009). He also translated The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha (Harvard University Press, 1999), winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Brasfield has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at Penn State University and lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

by this poet


         How time slowed when any thought     
     or apprehension of the next instant
             vanished (no obligation, then or later),

         how in that long moment, all at once,
     yet without surprise, how what was close
             was present in a sudden suspense,   


Radiant the delayed calmness,
—Do you feel it, I said. —Yes, you said,

of what only each can know,
kernel of radiance, the globo terrestre

of a water drop, not the passing adaptations
of canonical light, but seconds stilled—

our hearts beating through the moments—centuries


A cortege of clouds’
shifting planes 

reflected on a river,
the current’s weave deepens,

yet motionless
the dramatization of

a fern unfolding,
light illuminating the air

for a moment’s threshold,
when time, where we stand,

corresponds to the day
held firm