Mind and Body by James Graham

It used to be a baker's; and then what?
Health foods and meditation? My curiosity
too idle, and the parking spaces taken,
I never bothered to find out. Today,
it's out of business. Strange

that a thing so merely in a corner of the eye,
no former marriage-house or place of meeting
-even once only-some remembered face,
should summon such a crowd;

but even before the lights they were
unquestionably there: Altair, Jerusalem,
Sirius, Dresden, Vega, Troy

(and other lots in time and space,
none less remarkable than another):

the ancient starlight of lost multitudes,
broadcast signals from the Roman wheelwright,
or the shipwright of Piraeus:
patient, expectant messages that having travelled
through both clear and cloudy ages,
are now received at last, again, uncomprehendingly,
here in the studios of this anarchic city;
received much later than the signaller intended,
who long ago flamed out in pain, or whose light spirit,
collapsing into heavy bones, went out.

Anarchic skull-bound city,
its stores and workshops crowded high
in airless density, its hinterlands
unmapped and sinister,

that grows so quickly thronged
with transient poor, and purposeful
with communistic dreams: after its day

-the last call-signal started on its way,
the briefest, without the unsortable junk,
the casual mysteries of windblown paper,
street-faces and abandoned shops -

after its day, no record but the fading
word, the mouldering bones. Well,
as it happens, this is where

the winking hearse will pass, smartly towards
the boneyard on the right. And Mind and Body
will be something else by then.


James Graham was born in 1939 in Ayrshire in the south west part of Scotland. For just over thirty years he taught English in local high schools. During that time his work was occasionally published in small magazines, but since his retirement eight years ago, he has published more frequently, in The Dark Horse, for example, a poetry magazine edited by Gerry Cambridge and Dana Gioia. In 2000 he had a first collection published by an English small press called the National Poetry Foundation. When he is not writing, or visiting or being visited by his grandchildren, he works in his garden, and talks to the trees.