Bio Note: I live in the woods a little east of Saugatuck, Michigan, and have been teaching college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years. My wife, psychotherapist Suzy Doyle, and I have six grown kids and significant others and four grandkids and like nothing more than cycling the miles and miles of backroads here near Lake Michigan. The poems I've submitted appear in my 2017 If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press), and my latest of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres, 2020) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box, 2019).
Instead of Listening to NPR
Last night dipped into single digits: slit sleeves of fresh snow clothing branches immodestly, ethereal flakes making that no-sound they fake hoping to prove Newton wrong, the lean lawn bench again porting its padded shoulders. I need nothing more to move me along. The recliner aligned with the triptych’d windows anchors me into whatever the day has to say: Don’t go east, old man. Larry was the saddest Stooge. Bread dough. If I were you, I’d buy high, sell low, just for the rhyme. If only your father could see you now, he’d roll over in his urn. In just a minute a cat or two, tails straight as neon snow stakes, will discover my perch, fluff me like their personal pillow, settle in toward their own afternoon.
First published in The 3288 Review
I’d have to get the handbook out to identify the tiny bird scuttling around the oak trunk by the back door. So I don’t, and what’s the difference, since you know whom I’m seeing— plump ovoid, mostly globe the shape of a downy tear, mostly brown, maybe some yellow, some black and white, always looking up even as it scrolls down and across the ragged bark, even as new snow sifts on a slant into the ebony pinheads of its eyes. And I said oak but would have to look that up, too, if our deed didn’t claim it and I hadn’t heard they cling to those beige scraps flapping at me as I sit here realizing I don’t know much at all. Henry Thoreau would know both, and I’m remembering he also knew no difference between being committed to a farm or the county jail. Emerson could gladly commit to my home, too— own the oaks and whatever other trees I don’t know that surround me and hold the birds and shield the deer. I’d concentrate on reading Walden and living off the grid like a friend’s ex’s best friend who parked his van in her front yard, plugged his TV into her outside outlet, showed up in time for family dinners so he could decry committing to materialism. If that bird on that oak had a choice, could choose, I’d imagine he or she (the exact coloring signifying which) would stick to the avian grid, Thoreau having also said that in his cabin he’d caged himself among the wild birds.
First published in I-70 Review
©2020 D. R. James
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