Sonic play and existential angst pull these two poems by D. R. James toward their exploration of “tongue-tied” uncertainty. Is the speaker in each talking about an ambiguous or actual other, or is he reflecting on himself but in the distancing third person — in either case, in order to accomplish what? Critique, lament, empathy?
by: D.R. James
Pale timbre of morning above the surf’s
limpid tunes: fugal. Dross achromatic
from spent bonfires. But bijou’d waves, their hued
translucence. New day archives night minus
those old sad shadows. Strange it doesn’t dare
accuse his truant heart: wounded pond locked
by secrets, gnawed by ego, ticking through
entrenchment. Does the descant signal shrugs?
He mimes some and hums a counter from his
mouth, its fissured pathway drafting answers.
Nestled under surfaces excused as
over-spilled resolve, the man wears a mask
locked onto laurels. Tongue-tied, proffering
smudged, fledgling maxims like static, hasn’t
he bludgeoned, mauled, even gimped his shambling
unmendably more? Dismissing chaos
cripples him, too. Compliant line-toeing
lops off talons devised for digging in,
for disjointing bunk. He only barbs junk,
daubing molten quips on impotent stones.
D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for thirty-six years and lives in the woods outside Saugatuck, Michigan. His most recent of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project.