Fall 2017, Volume 23

Poetry by D. R. James

Mission Statement

The middle may make sense.  It feels
like a blind man has corralled me
with his red-tipped cane. Bring it on,
he says, tough-guy seer! I stall,
now on beyond sixty years, fear nearing
a religion, its tenets far too tenable.
Inside the familiar pen, words cower,
denying the shortest line between two points:
I may be ravenous.  I may be full.
The color I call red may be green.
What sort of jockeying employs such oblivion?
The shape I call round may be bird.
The shortest route between two stars,
my tongue, hovering in the familiar canal.
What sort of angel enjambs her eternity?
What sort of storm front will open my sky?
What landscape, what battle, what nudge, what hedge?
The song of the predictable sun says set, go.

This Day

This day has its shape
as does every day.  It
arrived.  You saw yourself
its backseat driver, the rider
useless or helpless, rude flurry
of persons floating the peripheries.
A blunt arrow of a day
with you glued to the shaft
a misaligned feather, more
a bag of drag than guidance.
No wonder the unrelenting
headwind, the  heart’s pounding
that won’t die down,
this fatigue by dusk.
In the museum of days lived,
where consolations and regrets
echo off scuffed tile, off
cloudy glass, you fake it, fall
prey to what carries you.




BIO: D. R. James’s poetry collections are Since Everything Is All I’ve Got (March Street) and five chapbooks, most recently Why War and Split-Level (Finishing Line). Poems and prose have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (Woodley) and Poetry in Michigan / Michigan in Poetry (New Issues). His second full-length collection will appear in early 2018 from Dos Madres Press. James lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has been teaching writing, literature, and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years.