learning to ride a bicycle

a man lay in bed

last days
he knows

dying from the struggle
to live

the nurse
does what she can
to make it easier

through the morphine
induced fog
a moment of clarity

he says

“I never learned
to ride a bike”

too late now
she knows

too late now

(D James)

it is not a straight line

I went
as far as the road
would take me

then continued on

I followed
the wind
as far as it did blow

then went beyond

I walked
to the peak
of the mountain

then reached up and touched the sky

I dropped
to the bottom
of the ocean

then dug down to the center of the earth

seen the sights
rode the rides
had loves
and losses

watched the line between
the beginnings and endings
blur
then bend

into a circle

and I can either
go round with it

or waste time
fighting against the flow

(D James)

urban scrawl

this thing strung together making no sense yet kept writing these words and not even thinking letting them flow and trying to keep up like in life when everything moves at the speed of sound and people keep moving and I seem to be in the way, slower than everyone else feeling tired and left behind it all seems a bit too much maybe I’m still on west coast time or it could be that I’m no longer interested in the rushing and running, the pushing and shoving, shouldering my way through life trying to get in front of the person in front of me assholes behind me kicking at the backs of my shoes, knocking them off skittering across the platform as the E train rushes out of the station and the next group of followers gathers in the station, and on to the next thing, the one after the one right before this one, how can anyone make sense of the world anymore when people start conversations in e-mail and end them in text, and no one, no one, answers the phone any longer, why can’t this rant end? because there are no endings and no beginnings, there’s just all this rushing around in the middle and when I go, and when you go, there will still be 6 billion and more on the planet to take up where we left off, and there is no reason for it, no meaning – it all is and it all isn’t and we’re here to sort out what it means to us now, and then we’re gone. And the sun will rise and the sun will set, and the sun will rise and the sun will set …

(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)

old flame same heat

a cold wind
comes through
like longing

how many years
before we’ll be together
my love

will death
take me
before I see
your eyes
once more

feel your skin
breathe you in

is there no
relief from this
yearning

is this to be
yet another
unfinished story

all those miles
all those years
all these trials
all these tears

don’t we deserve
a break in this life
or do we have to wait
until the next one

(D. James)

somebody to love

wanting
someone
who gets the feeling

of all those words
in all those songs
like I do

someone fearless

who knows
the difference
between
pain and suffering

creating or courting
neither

but knowing
what it means
to feel deeply

to ache

to revel
in the glory
of being known
by another
like no other

to miss
the one you love

(D. James)

blap

there are
all these words
and feelings
and messy things

spilled out
on the floor
like blood

seems there’s
no place
to put them all

can’t swallow them

try stuffing them
back into your gut

but they
no longer fit

feels like
you’ll die without
them

seems like
you’ll die with
them

where will you …
how will you …
what will you …
why would you …

go on?

(D. James)

life may be empty and meaningless, but don’t tell that to my heart

don’t know what
to do
with these feelings

when the woman
you love says
it doesn’t mean anything

like your love
doesn’t matter
like you
don’t
matter

it isn’t what she means
it’s just how it sounds
to you
in the moment
as she says goodbye
for the last time

what do you do
knowing she’s already
calling another man
lover

do you give in
to the rage
let it consume you
or can you find a way
to let it all go

as if it really
doesn’t matter

(D. James)

it’s all in how you say it

summon the gods
even though you know
they cannot save you

let them rain down pain
like warriors at the front

bring the slaughter
leave nothing
in your wake

full of force
shallow power
that cannot last

this is what
you can do
with words

(D. James)

walking through it

nervous
pressure

feelings
running rampant

wanting
it all
to go
away

moments
of clarity
fogged
by anger

wanting to
give this
pain
away

yet

knowing
there is
something
on the other
side of it

something
I need
to see

another way
to be

(D. James)

tusnami soul

alone
in a room

darkness
of your soul

moment
of madness

you rage
and cry out

“what does
it all mean?”

like a wave
it crashes
over you

washes
everything
away

then subsides

you are left
standing
with nothing

and now
you can begin

(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)

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)

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)

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)

defenses down

come to me now
in the dead
of night

so that I might
hold you tight

come to me now
let me whisper
in your ear

and feel you near
knowing no fear

come to me now
so I can touch
your skin

let me drink
you in like raw gin

make me believe
in a god
and heaven
and all the angels
who sing

crush me
with your look
silence me
in a kiss

hold me
until the sun rises
and tomorrow comes
like sweet pain

(D. James)