everything in the moment of nothing

each morning
the task
is to get present

the day cannot really begin
without being present
to this very moment

I’m aware of being present
when a smile
stretches across my face
for no reason at all

though there are plenty of reasons
to smile
there are equally enough invented reasons
to frown

the smile I wait for
is the smile for no reason at all
the smile for this very moment in time
when I am connected to being alive

not the world
and my place in it
but all life
yours
mine
the 6 billion others
the trees
the bees
every blade of grass

as well as
the life we can’t see
underneath this one
the cells
and their nuclei

and who knows
perhaps even life
on another planet
in another vast galaxy
far beyond our imagination
or the reach of current technology

this is what happens
when I get present

life expands beyond comprehension
and my worries, fears, judgements, and opinions
all fall away

and I am left with nothing

a blank canvas
to create anything I want
in this very moment

(D. James)

day’s end

buildings so high
they reach
beyond the sky

and everywhere are sounds
and smells
and crowds

densely packed trains
rumble the ground
carrying the millions
under the river

then
suddenly
bursting from the depths
on the other side

the blinding sun
sinking behind the skyline

there is nowhere quite like here
though some people will tell you otherwise

but this city can crush you
or make you
like no other

and once you’ve experienced it
whether for a day
or the rest of your life

you can never
forget it

(D James)

before it’s too late

let’s run away
she’d say

find
a place
where they
can’t find us

let’s run away
someplace warm
where the sun
always shines

find
that spot
where time
stands still

let’s run away
before we’re too old

let’s run away
before this life
kills us

let’s run away
let’s run away
let’s run away

at least until
the morning comes

(D. James)

life in the city of cities

the subway rises
from the mouth
of darkness

pulling cars across
metal track

to the top
of the mountain

the skyline
like a picture
postcard
at sunset

a symphony
at full tilt

a mass of steel
and glass
thousands
of lighted squares
and twinkling
red lights

reminds you
that this city
in its ebb and flow
was here before you arrived

and will remain long
after you are gone

(D James)

contradiction of terms

messy business
this thing
called
life

no straight lines
or perfect circles

unchartable
unpredictable
erratic

like a riff
beauty
between
sour notes

brief
unyielding
amazing
painful
joyous

full of love
and contradictions

it couldn’t be
any other way
so why look for
what isn’t there

(D. James)

cycles

out the kitchen window
the late afternoon light
plays like a sax solo
against the building
across the way

cloud wisps
catch pink
as the sun hits
the horizon

the azure sky
goes darker
by degrees

evening comes
stealth and still
like a beautiful lover
passionate, intense

another night
lies ahead
awaiting the dawn

(D. James)

love at dawn

wanting
to hold someone
at the end of a long day

not just a body
but someone to love

curled up in my arms
breathing quietly
the smell of hair
and warm skin
mixed with clean sheets

someone to wake up to
come the morning light

someone
who calls me baby
in a way that means
the world to them

can’t a man want
these things
and not think
he has to hide
his feelings away

I’m just asking

(D. James)

wanting more than the gods will allow

waiting
the night out

feeling
my way
in the dark

hoping
the morning
won’t come
this one time

keeping
the fantasy
of being with you
longer than just tonight
alive for one more hour

as light
lines
the horizon

I take
one last look
and like Eurydice
you vanish before my eyes

(D. James)

what will I do tomorrow without you tonight

haven’t slept
in my own bed
all week

now it’s later
than late
and I’m faced
with the aloneness
of being alone
in this bed
that’s just
a mattress
on the floor

I miss
your green
eyes
your red
hair
your pale
skin
your
attitude

the way you look
straight at me
in the morning
like a child
who has yet
to learn fear
or know the difference
between themself
and another

and your laugh
pure abandon
in that ha ha ha
the complete unbridled
expression of joy

how will I make it
through the night
and worse
what will I look forward to
in the morning

(D. James)

more of you

in bed
your head
on my chest

I want
to write
my name
across your
smooth white belly

to mark you
as you’ve
marked me

afraid to say
what I truly feel
for fear
it would
scare you away

then I let go
of all that
and am with you
in a way
not possible
before

and all
I want now
is more

(D. James)

burn for you

wanting
to burn
for another

feel
her missing
from the sheets
when she’s away

be
in the warmth
of a gaze

wake
in the silence
before sunrise

stare
at her body
lying in wait

get lost
in the smell
of her hair

pull
her to me
knowing
that’s always
what she wants

(D. James)

wish I was there

Waking
only a few hours
after falling asleep

I think
it’s 5
in the morning
where she is

she’s still asleep
I see her
face

quiet
beautiful
that mouth

later
on a bus
cold December sunlight

and I think
6:30 where she is

still asleep

Through the window
the Manhattan skyline
from the Jersey side

majestic
moves me
like no other place

yet I’d trade
it all
for another
chance

(D. James)

nothing more than love

waiting
for the call
which never comes

the one
where she says
all is forgiven
I love you

she says
please come home
we can work it all out

she says
come to me

and I do
and we do

but the phone
doesn’t ring

and everything
reminds me
of her

cup of tea
a bed
laughter
dark hair
sunlight
dogs
tears
children
laundry

I think
what should I do
with all these thoughts
in my head

afraid to let go
that that
would be
the end

and I keep
wanting
another outcome

the one where
the phone rings

and she says …

(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)

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)

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)

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)