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)

stubborn lazy do-nothing fucker

like a dog
that won’t come

a bird
that refuses
to sing

or a cat
that won’t hunt

what if
I just sat here
all damn day

listening to Nina

the sound
of all that pain
washing over me
like rain

(D. James)

pretty girl moves a room

she notices
the men who
turn their heads
just in time

the ones who look
but don’t want
to be obvious

trying to be
cool
but she
catches them
anyway

often sees
heads moving
to the left
or right

as if
they were
only observing
the room

the one
they’ve been
sitting in
for hours now

funny
how that
keeps happening

(D. James)

better get to it

waiting
for the keys
to speak

why don’t they
type something

must I do
everything
around here

I thought
this writing thing
would be easier

people talk about
poems that write
themselves

where can I
get me
one of those

they promised
life would be
more fun
on a Mac

but I still
have to do
all the damn thinking

(D. James)

this is why I’m alone

spent the night
on the surface
of sleep

worrying about
my own
self interest

come the morning
hungry, ornery
horny, and angry

there was
nothing to do
but fight

maybe I’m not
cut out
for this
relationship thing

(D. James)

omission missive

I don’t say
what’s on
my mind

When
it’s all
shit

So keep
my mouth
shut

Because
always
everyone
wants to help

And sometimes
I just need to be
where I’m at

Got it?

(D, James)

to be young again

high heeled shoes
short black skirt
smooth legs

drive the herky-jerky
old men crazy

scratching and blinking
shaking their balding heads
remembering a time they had

wishing they weren’t
who they are
for one more day

before she walks
away

leaving them with
the faintest scent
of perfume

a memory
of a memory
lingers

(D. James)

what if you weren’t there

billy blew
his brains out
and no one noticed

billy blew
his brains out
and no one cared

billy blew
his brains out
and you ask

who the hell
is billy anyway?

well, what if
billy
were you

(D. James)

player piano

it wells up
into your heart

dies between there
and your throat

that longing
that passion
to live
to feel

moved
open
raw

keys
black and white
tears
clear as rain

play it again
but never tell
what it means

never put words
to beauty so soft
and lovely

(D. James)

power of an addiction

It is said
only the fallen
know the true depths
could you be
one of the rare ones
so often imagined?

Longer than any river
the emotional road we travel

More torturous
than your beauty
this lustful addiction
that can be
briefly assuaged
but never ever cured

And where
have the gods
that made you gone?

Is it true
you destroyed them
so there would be no equal?

I am a dark knight
sent on a failed errand
for a now dead king

riding through endless nights
searching for some
unexplainable something
that exists for a moment
then disappears
leaving only memories
and the faint tint
of lipstick on my glove

I need something beautiful
to destroy me
someone intelligent enough
to match me

I thought I heard you calling

(D. James)

where’d it go

Bourbon and cigarettes
late-night hookers
down dark alleys

What doesn’t kill me
costs more than
just money

Turning fantasy into reality
shaking with adrenaline
getting kicks from anticipation
feeling more powerful
than any man should

Someday
I’ll get off
this merry-go-round
but I can’t seem to find
“someday” on the calendar

Maybe it falls on
February 30th
two-thousand-and-never

(D. James)

the four corners of love and belonging

See the tall girl
standing on the corner
a cell phone to her ear

Oblivious to the traffic
rushing by
a boy
talking in her ear

He tells her
“I love you”
but she doesn’t
believe it

She turns west
and hears him say
he can’t live without her

She turns east
and he says
please don’t leave

When she looks down
at the ground
is that south?

Up at the sky
north?

He keeps talking
pleading
wheedling
whining
but she stopped listening
long ago

Behind dark sunglasses
she quints at the bright sunlight
of a Los Angeles afternoon

It’s after she throws the phone
as it skips along the hot tar
and is run over a few times

she realizes
her mistake all along
has been looking for love
from without instead of
from within

(D. James)

pick a card, any card …

The choices
we make
define our lives

Saying this
but doing that

Wanting one thing
then following another

Looking for some truth
beyond ourselves
when all the time
it’s right where
we left it

In our wallet
next to the photograph
of the one we love


(D. James)

Do we expect too much from our heroes or have they just let us down

The writer
that doesn’t write

The poet
that doesn’t poe

The savior
that doesn’t save

On a road
that goes nowhere
leads to nothing
and ends when it’s over

[queue music]

(D. James)

so I’ve been told

If I did
as I was told

twist and shout
rattle and hum

would it be annoying
or would you come
along

If I did
as I was told

there’d be
no poetry
at least not
from me

If I did
as I was told

I might remember
to care

that everyone
has an opinion
and some are quick
to share

If I did
as I was told

If only I ever
did as I was told

(D. James)