wonky compass

you head north
I follow

then east
and I follow

to the west
then south
north again
and I follow

your shifts
of whim

until
my bearings
are lost

and I am
swallowed
in a sea
of emotion

you go on
leaving behind this
reckless wreckage

now
there is
nowhere
to go
but
down

(D. James)

Christmas for Atheists

what can we
give

on this day

that can truly
be called a gift

not something
bought

or even made

but something
of ourselves

to look someone
in the eye
and let them
know

they are loved
and appreciated

to leave
them
feeling
as if you know
exactly who they are

not who you
think they are
or need them
to be

but truly
who they are

(D. James)

a side of me

there is
a side
of me

I do not
like

a part
that feels
unheard

it rages
and I am
in its grip

lost to
madness

there is
a side
of me

I do not
like

and
I have
to live
with the
consequences

of my actions

cannot erase
what I’ve done

there is
a side
of me

I hate

and wish
never to see
again

(D. James)

pressure

Filled
with fear

not knowing
what the future
holds

worried
I can’t
won’t
make it

That somehow
after all this
time

I’ve finally come
to the end

no more
tricks
up my
sleeve

time to pay
the piper

feeling terribly
inadequate

needing to
reinvent
rethink
shift

(D. James)

This is what you don’t see because I don’t show it

I fret
am filled
with fear

as if
poured
into me

an endless pitcher
overflowing
into my mouth

filling me from
toes to teeth

I choke
cannot breathe

Am I doing
the right thing

should I have done
this or that
before or after
with her or him or it

should I not have

will there be enough
money
time
love
friendship
sex

What will become
of me
in time

before I turn
to dust

(D. James)

Rain New York City

The rain falls
like anger

fierce thunder
barks

the air
thick and wet

Black streets
reflect lamplight

hard sound
of water falling
from a long way up

Tortured soul
of weather
wrestling
with the city
tonight

as if the sky
hurt and afraid
needs to be heard

wants its wrath
to be known
exerting some
momentary sense of control

only to lose
against the granite
and steel
blacktop and brick

The hard city
that falters in flood

but never ever
gives in
never loses
the war

(D. James)

down day

Thinking
of giving up

packing it in
leaving

Always looking
for support
someone to prop me up

or just lean me
against a wall

Feeling like
it’s never
gonna be enough

Swimming
in a pool
of self-pity

not wanting
to take
responsibility

wondering how
everyone else
seems to do it

so why
can’t I

(D. James)

the last poet

When the night
is over

and the final
cigarette
has been smoked

what will
the last poet
say

After all
the evoked emotion
failed relationships
dead boyfriends
abortions
abusive parents
drugs and alcohol

laughter
and pain

have been spilled
out
in some cases
artfully vomited

what could
this last poet
have to say

How to summarize
this night
these words
life sentences
bad grammar

poetic license
driven to excess

How to follow
the girl who told
of losing all her hair

the guy who
crashed his car

the gay biker
who longs
to be dominated
by a she-wolf
of the SS

the boy
who lost
his virginity
so late

the girl
who lost hers
so early

the words
of so many
who want change
yet stay
right where they are

What can this last
motherfucker
have to say
that can top the
triumphs
tragedies
surprises
sorrows

What will
the last poet
leave us with

as we file
out of this
basement grotto
into the light
of dawn

Do we expect
too much
as he steps to the microphone

the crowd
too drunk
to hush

even the white
of the spot light
seems a bit dingy
as he steps into it’s shaft

The last poet
will speak the
last poem

and we will leave
to sleep it off

Whatever he says
will be the final word
so our expectations
are far too high

The last poet
poor fucker
has nowhere to go
but down

unless he’s more genius
than genius itself
more brilliant
than all of us

The last poet
clears his throat
touches his lips
to the mic

the wait
has us spellbound
and half-hopeful

Even so
when we wake
in the afternoon
hungover and
full of piss

will we remember
any of this

(D. James)