TUESDAY: Eight Poems: A Sequence

BY D. R. JAMES

Copyright is is held by the author. These poems have been published previously in various publications including Lost Enough, Finishing Line Press, Eclectica, Pif, Scintilla 1, TOAD, 2:1, and Poetry Quarterly.

Carte Postale
The x’d window marks my single room, the
20ième étage — the edge. See? It looks
over this drab campus américain,
out-skirting Grenoble close to the west,
L’Alp du Grand Ser to the southeast. Every
grey morning, I hitch to the old town, stroll
past cafés, patisseries, fresh croissants,
witness turtle-necked lovers, their longing
bathed in foreign-film smoke. Whatever you
do, don’t marry Andrew, s’il te plait.  Love,

In the Blue Light of the Television
In October once, late evening, after
a long-weekend’s hideaway where a lake
had licked my mind into submission and
a steady wind had advanced the ancient
dunes their micromillimetre, I sat
in the blue light of the television
and heard the words that numbed then freed me to
myself — I’m leaving you — and one of us
then said, “It will be for the best,” neither
knowing it was already the dead truth

A Summer Saturday
Woke up, started packing books in boxes
(who keeps what?), gathered few household items,
clothes in drawers she’d decided were mine. This
little boy or that followed to help, best
he could, our oldest helping load the big
things (couch, old table, my new bed) in the
van, its back seats taken out. By evening,
all moved the few blocks, and after some catch
out back, I kissed each face good-bye, staggered
off to dead-end the worst day of my life

Imagining a Demise
A profile like a pasty corpse robed in
silk pajamas inside “the home,” laughter
like ashes in their ring, the psalm of grief
hovering like a period, the calm
shadowy fraud, the jokes, the riddles, the
emergency moans buttoned into blind
lounges, the waterfalls singing of the
grass, the gory grey ocean breathed in from
below, from a quaking basement: middle-
agings, lurching like barks blown in the wind

after Neruda’s “Youth”

Hammock
In backyard shadows, swung vertical, on
edge, like a topsail puffed taut in a wind,
the hammock had unloaded a pillow,
half-glasses, an autobiography.
They lay scattered at my father’s feet. He’d
died a year before; his bad eye appeared
less surprised. I steadied him on the lawn,
backed him into the hammock, and at last
relaxed with him in that curve of canvas,
no longer the seat of my resentment

Cosmetology
I’ve led my final bible study and
want to go before I need another
haircut
, Mom said, two weeks into the three
months she’d been given, the last supper of
cancer swelling her belly. Always small,
she’d been shrinking in inverse proportion
to the growth of her will. Doctors don’t know
everything. This is going fast.
A week
later she was dead, praise God, since the girls
downstairs were butchers. Ever see their work?

First Light
After the year of staring, various
greys at last colour tree, beach, breaker, the
dark undersides of waves, the textured seas
arriving gently from a medium,
even grey. And the horizon, barely
reckoned, smoothed to its worn sheen, intersects
inexpressive sky, sedate lake, flattened
and diaphanous, the road-show backdrop
for enacting the refurbishment of
a feeble — no, make that a threadbare — life

A Theology
Until that morning, infinity had
never listened. My heart, which nearly died
five years before, its good blood slackening
gradually but surely in the foolish
geography of my foolish body,
forever hesitated to hear what
alone held it in time’s bald gaze. Then, that
morning, four a.m., a bird, his Ee-oo-
oo-Eh
echoing off brick, unanswered
over Tenth Street, taught my heart to listen.

4 comments

  1. Jack Roberts

    This morning a political commentator said the ten Democratic presidential candidates needed less prose and more poetry during last night’s debate. So I started my day with your eight 10 x 10’s. Rewarded! They are amazing, soul penetrating. Events which I knew a bit about, now unforgettable.

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