Poem-a-Day - "What Now" by Jacob Griffin Hall

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September 29, 2022 

What Now

Jacob Griffin Hall

The roads have closed for flooding. 
The rows of cars are marbled in a mist. 
Watching gulls dive-bomb 
the waves behind the pier, the only thing 
that’s left for me is gratitude. 
Thank you for this. 
Thank you for the landscape
that’s not yet turned to dust, 
the wet gusts filled with clumsy birds 
and hints of sunlight,
and me, soaking wet as well, 
allowed by the grace
of what flesh
to watch.

Copyright © 2022 by Jacob Griffin Hall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“This poem is the final poem in a manuscript about my home state of Georgia. For this project, I spent a long time researching various histories that I had either never learned about or learned about incompletely—histories that structures of power have a vested interest in keeping peripheral. The poems, like the research they grew out of, are filled with both sorrow and joy. In this last poem, I think the two come together in a way that’s important for me. When I wrote it, I was reading Camille T. Dungy and Ross Gay. I definitely feel each of their influences in the poem—Gay’s poetics of gratitude, Dungy’s attentiveness to self and landscape in the Anthropocene. The coast in the poem is the Georgia coast. I think it was late afternoon.”
—Jacob Griffin Hall

Jacob Griffin Hall is the author of Burial Machine (Backlash Press, 2022). He serves as the poetry editor of the Missouri Review and lives in Columbia, Missouri. 

Burial Machine
(Backlash Press, 2022)

“Río Chamita” by Arthur Sze
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“Field” by Erin Belieu
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Thanks to Cynthia Hogue, author of In June the Labyrinth (Red Hen Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read or listen to a Q&A about Hogue’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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