Poems by D.R. James

Today’s Jay Imagines Herself a Hummingbird

Well, why not?  This little feeder caters
only to those droves of four-inchers who
can sit-and-flit as if the perches were hot
landing pads. So if this is where there’s what
she needs, then improv’ing a hovering hummer
is an appropriate way to hope. True, her

explosive bulk and her blues the hues of
power burst the browner congress like blue
fire, like a flashy blues band of desire
vamping the local tedium, seizing
the break to free-jazz their dreary tunes.

She’s like that undisclosed moment you always
remember—that impulse you knew could destroy
your life—the fell swoop when you deduced forever
that the drab existence isn’t all there is,
all you’ll ever need to please.  In my
cathartic case something like her made its
entrance as an omen I would’ve preferred
someone even blinder to interpret.
But what first rehearsed to depict stock
tragedy unsettled instead into
a sprawling drama of the absurd,
a directorial risk that’s unearthed
an abyss of possibility, my
blind alley of visibility.  Look:

third shift, a worker, churning dough, re-
discovers one old morning he’s an artist,
best home sculpting fragrant stacks of unsolved
wood.  And a girlfriend, no longer satisfied
to abide the swollen lines of lying men,
decides it’s time for the rich whim she’s always had
to dance.  And a wife, or a husband,
in a body meant for loving differently,
confronts the dumb facts, makes that staggering move,
and gradually life renews, re-begins
in the tough time it takes not to go back.

This man or this woman flutters into
what is need, then chooses what will be
the vital lead—still wheeling before
the consequences that will beckon next.

—first published in A Little Instability without Birds
(Finishing Line Press, 2006)

Great Blue Heron

Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.
                 —Mary Oliver, “October”

Busy inhabiting my world—
blazing car, radio blather,
coffee buzz that wouldn’t last—

I somehow caught a left-hand glimpse,
so quick I didn’t see you flinch,
yet so outstanding, you could’ve been

a plastic cousin to the prank flamingos
that another morning
enthralled my neighbor’s lawn.

Stark still, ankle-deep
in that transitory water,
only the one side, one-eyed,

wide as disbelief, you looked
just like you looked, posed
in the Natural History Museum,

1963: for again,
all those slender angles,
the spear of your bill,

that deathless intensity
marking your stick-form way, only
now in a mid-May puddle poised

between the intersecting rushes
eastbound, 196, southbound, 31.
And you, still doing

what you’ve never known
you do, still finding your life
wherever you find yourself—

while I, still fixated as always
on finding myself,
as if that were to find a life,

saw again how wildly
I am alive—
how I always want to know it.

—first published in Psychological Clock
(Pudding House Publications, 2007)

Infatuation Reconsidered, This Time Sixteen Years Later

Yes, I miss that downright awe, that energy
now conserved for the duration, the more sober
though no less precarious rest of our lives.

All of our maybe’s have now turned certain,
knowing we know each other so well we will
never know enough. Our closets—no longer

metaphors storing torrid aching for carnal
satisfaction, passions ogling vague horizons—
have become real closets, packed with the real

materiel for the everyday. Every night
we drift off, my front shoring her backside,
comfortably conforming to each other’s surest

soul. So, what then of that all-enthralling
infatuation? In spite of the relaxed
advantage of partnership, the solace

of a more or less forever contentment,
such fascination has barely subsided:
the fragrant safety of her familiar yet still

thrilling body still induces that cognitive
befuddlement, still produces wave upon wave
of that sensuous—that sweatening—inundation.

—first published in Poetry Quarterly (Spring 2019)

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 35 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, his latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), the microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project, and a new chapbook, Flip Requiem, will be released in Spring 2020 (Dos Madres Press). www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage

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