Wednesday, May 24, 2017

After Manchester

Let the skies close over
As a gray wooly blanket
And forbid the sun
Betray my tears.

Let the ground
Cover in hoer frost
Steely and white
That nothing take life.

Let the twigs in the treetops
Be barren and dry
That luxuriant leaves of spring
Not wave in abundant joy.

Let oceans freeze
And groan beneath ice
That every swimming thing perish
Every gurgling pleasure cease.

How may creation continue
And celebrate its passion
When my shattered heart breaks
And life pours from me in rivers?

Tell me, please
How do I live
Against the blade of the scythe?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

To My UK Readers....

I wish words had healing power, sufficient to provide new, perfectly fashioned flesh, and blood enough for resurrection. I would give my own life, were it possible, to restore breath, pulse and restoration for your children's broken, young bodies. But these words limply hang in view of the cowardly, savage attack in Manchester. I grieve at your side, and with you, mourn your unimaginable loss.

May God comfort you always.

~~ James

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Stand in the light.
Do nothing.
Let the morning sun
Bathe you
In flashing brilliance.

I orbit you
Enraptured by your art.

Michelangelo could not capture
Your loveliness
Nor Monet
Your soft beauty.
Raphael would marvel
At your countenance.

Yet only I
Am privileged
To behold your charm.

Your rose-washed hue
The soft hair at the nape
Of your neck
Your tresses falling
Like a shinning waterfall
Spills across your round breasts
And I cannot turn away.

Shadows merge with shadow
Along the pike ways
Of your graceful hips and legs.

Let the morning sun sculpt you
And I alone remain
The patron
Of your art.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Before the War

I am full of memory
As evening is full of mist
Gleaming in bright cones
Beneath the corner lamp.

My hollow footsteps
Bound from stone and brick
Pauses and apostrophes
Measures of moments.

Where went the days
The seamless nights
Of childhood
The womb of our hopes?

From the highway, traffic sighs
Golden bright in vapor lights.
Sidewalks of the marketplace
Orbit shops and bistros
Where we shared coffee kisses
In darkened doorways.

We were immortal.
Days endless
Drifting on a sea of innocence.
Our hearts pounded like jackhammers
In our chests
Marking the days
And velvet nights
Of youth.

But that was long ago
Before the war
When we wore our hair long
And laughed at old men
Who sneered at our passing.

Now, I am becoming an old man
Lingering under the same corner lamp
Collar and heart turned against the rain
Through which we once ran, laughing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Lamentation

Shall I tell the trees you’ve gone?
They commune with the night sky
Singing mournfully.
Stars and comets serve as choir
Bringing forests to weep.

Maple, poplar, pine and ash
Sway like bodies grieving
Oak, walnut and hickory
Lift their arms
Clouds canopy; tents of solace.

I shall tell the trees.
Sister willow will shake
Her long hair.
Father birch
Presides over my sorrow
Priestly, robed in white.

Without you
I wander as a child
Of storms
Suckled by wind
Brother to lonely woodlands.

Until you return to this valley
All nature laments.

I must tell the trees you’ve gone.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Iris of God

Midnight glistens.
I gaze deep stars
Pulsing white and red
Starring into
The iris of God.

Some say He speaks
In thunders
The sound of many waters.
I say He is silent.

As silent as my father
Smoking in the kitchen
In the early hours
Smoke wafting in the dark
His cigarette tip glowing.

I watch the ash burn
Red and magnificent.
The iris of God.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


I rode Greyhound
Heavy tires slapping broken concrete
Farms and villages sliding away
Fields in brown stubble
Furrowed in rows.

Conversation muted
Cool air seeping from vents
Mixing the faint odor of diesel
And unwashed bodies.

The white-haired old woman beside me
Shows me pictures of her grandkids
Splashing in a hotel pool.
I have no picture of you.

Thoughts, memories are deferred
Replaced by roadside curiosities
Gym shoes tied and slung over high lines
Shot gunned Coca Cola signs
And sad little towns with Pay Day Loan stores
Tattoo Parlors and Laundromats.
Sleep comes as a mercy.

I dream you are with me
Legs across my lap
The way you nap on Sundays.
I smell the shampoo fragrance in your hair
Listen to the rhythm of your breath
Watch your breasts rising and falling
Smile as I reckon myself your tourist
Grateful for every view of your wonders
Like the landscape beyond the tinted windows.

The bus sways gently
Rocking in the cross wind
Stirring reeds near the fence line
Beyond the shoulder of the road
Moving the way we did
Dancing in the dark
To songs from the radio
Pulling in distant signals.

Midnight static.

I awake to see a white barn
With bright, painted roof:
See Merrimac Cavern
And my stomach growls
Reminding me I have not eaten today.

But, I hunger for you
Hundreds of miles gone.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Long Grass

Easing back in the long grass
She propped on an elbow
Her eyes flecked with summer
And light flashing off the pond
Like dazzling diamonds.

I handed her a sandwich.
Peeling back the wrapper
She smiled
Savoring the flavor
Of turkey on white bread.

Need flamed my blood
Just watching her.
Everything she does draws me
Like a black hole
Inhaling stars.

A summer afternoon
With her
Has its own soundtrack.
I listened to the inner concert
My eyes playing over her body.
Aware of my visual foreplay
She smiled
Tongue licking a bit of mayonnaise
From the corner of her lip.

She laughed.
Her eyes now dark slits.

“Are you going to be okay?” she asked.
It was my turn to smile.
“That all depends on you.”

She lay the sandwich down.

“Come here,” she said.
“Let me show you why God made long grass.”

Smoke From My Pipe

Smoke from my pipe
Moves along the ceiling
Stirred by the blades of a slow fan.

Soft, watercolor shadows
Adorn plaster walls
Undulating like memories
Of lovers who joined here.

Silky saxophone from the radio returns me
To warm Carolina nights
Spent on the coast
Lights winking out to sea
Ships softly swaying
Almost still.

Slow dancing…
Like smoke from my pipe.

Dust Motes

Clad in a white robe
Standing before me
Nothing was between us
But dust motes
Floating in a shaft of
Morning sun.

Only I
Had knowledge of you
To see the faintest
Turn of a smile
Upon your lips
As you let the robe fall.

I might have moved
Toward you
Might have taken you
In my arms
Except dancing dust motes
Captured my attention
Taunting me
Suggesting it’s
The faint things
I fail to notice
That divides the hubris in me
From the passion in you.

Brilliant sunlight
Etching the pores of your skin
In bright relief
Aroused me
Though I am a frequent explorer
Of your terrain.

But dust motes
Transfixed me
Mesmerized me
Pirouetting in streams of light
Drawing me through its galaxy
To establish
My constant orbit around you.