3 poems by D. R. James

D. R. James


Poems are never completed—
they are only abandoned.
—Paul Valéry

So as I begin this one—
vowing as an experiment
not to give in to the vice
of revision, that sumo
of manipulation I so try
to apply to my life—
I wonder where I’ll leave it.

Will it be in some sun-warmed clearing,
a rocky outcropping in an old pine forest?
And will I have set out earlier
this morning with getting there in mind?
Or will it perhaps fall out of my pocket
along a downtown sidewalk
and blow a few feet
until it lodges under a parked car,
the puddle there and the dark
intensifying the metaphor:
a poem’s being abandoned?

Thus bookended by country and city,
both speculations in future tense,
the claim neglects the unfolding—
as if completion weren’t
every word as it emerges,
means and ends at once.

The cone is not container
of future tree. It is cone.
Nor is an old cone empty. 

After the Gale
Ivory spines disguise the oaks’ south sides,
slivers of sunshine lightening their rough
trunks. What furrowed pallor, what dignity:
spires anchored to all others underneath,
delight clad in the plucked bones of winter.
What diligence, what staid by standing: a
throng of distinct ascetics, enmeshed horde
of collective loners. It’s as if they’re
avowing how steadfastness, soon resumed,
enroots in you your essential locale.

Entering Winter with a Line
from Gwendolyn Brooks

Horizon’s burst-smear of pink nonchalance
forgets: We are things of dry hours and the
involuntary plan. In winter’s vise
I’ll wrestle — flail! — stampedes of elegies,
pendulums of memory, sidestepping
swathes of snow-fall brindled with late oak leaves’
yieldings: autumn’s ceding. But from this blunt
and silhouetted terrain, ranging out
tactically, cautious in my happenstance,
I will still delight — plod, but still ignite.

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Recently retired from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, D. R. James lives, writes, bird-watches, and cycles with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan, USA. His latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared internationally in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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