4.2k · May 28
Ever Really There
James May 28

I stood
at the base of the cliff,
I looked skyward
at the sheer rock.
And I as I stared,
with the sun in my eyes,
I wondered aloud
at what I was doing in this spot.
And while I was wondering
a dog walked by,
he sniffed the ground at my feet
and paid me no mind.
And after the dog had wandered off
a bird of unknown origin
landed on a limb
in a tree growing next to me.
I saw the bird and heard his song,
but he never saw me there.
And the bird flew off
to a land unknown
and left me by myself
and all alone.
And then I saw a path
and climbed to the top;
when I was there
I looked down
at the spot where I had stood,
and saw no sign
that I was ever there.

763 · Apr 3
Bored But Interested
James Apr 3

The sound of ice cubes
tumbling in a glass
broke the hypnotic haze
of the afternoon sun.

I pictured her drink
something layered,
a fruity, tropical concoction
to combat the stifling
Texas heat;
a nice contrast
to the deep amber
of my sweating beer bottle.

The ice fell again
and my gaze drifted
over the curve of fitted jeans.
and crossed legs --
the unmistakable red sole
of Luis Vuitton rocking
on a lazy right foot.

She looked bored
but interested.
I thought to buy her drink
but that seemed like an expensive order.

Based on a painting a friend did. I hope she's not offended by it.
731 · Mar 20
North of Jellico
James Mar 20

I left something in Kentucky
just north of Jellico
lost, now in the Cumberland

Youth is never wasted --
It's spent,

Our youth is spent in waste

When she took my hand and led me
over the rocks and into the stream
I wasn't sure if it was the cold water
or the feel of her skin against mine
that caused my stomach
to clinch and rise to my throat

More likely it was fear

As her body moved over mine
I felt a fearful, spiritual sensation

The sermon that morning
was on the evils of the flesh
and the sin of earthly desire

That preacher had never been chest deep
in a mountain spring
staring up at a noon sun
through strands of auburn hair
and eyes illuminated by water
glistening in the mid-day light

I left her at the mailbox
standing at the intersection
of the gravel road and her dirt driveway

As her fingers slipped from mine
I asked if I could walk her to church
next Sunday, too

713 · Jul 10
Little Bird
James Jul 10

Little bird
Outside my window
Please go away.
You come here every day
To steal my thoughts and
Replace them with dreams of
Adventures
I long to go
Up where you soar to
See what you see
From your Heavenly view
Nothing is lost
Or hidden from you.
You sing a song
Bright and sweet
But you are always
Alone
Who hears you?
Who is it for?
Must be for me,
I thought so.
Who sent you?
I think I know,
But she is far away
Lost to memory.
Oh, no.
Don't go.
Stay and tell me
What she said.
Does she miss me?
She does.
Tell her I miss her too.

A repost i dug up.
697 · Apr 1
Broken Altar
James Apr 1

I feel the devil calling me,
a voice I choose not to hear

He's called before
when I was young

But even then I refused to listen

Growing up with an innate sense of right
and wrong
The path to righteousness was easy to find
but laden with snares and pitfalls

I've been caught in my share (more than) --

In the woods behind my house
about a mile hike
stands an old wooden church,
abandoned and fallen to ruin

I've stood on the weathered floor
and stared up at the vaulted ceiling
The only sound I heard
was the sound the wind makes
when it blows through an empty tunnel

When I was a child
I heard the Voice of God

Now I search for it
in the decaying wood
and broken altar

681 · Apr 20
An Unaristicratic Death
James Apr 20

The stand of timber
on my great-grandfather’s farm
died an unaristocratic death --

In the Spring of 1987
the old man left;
quietly and alone, he released
back the breath given to him
at his birth.

His body, rested without a headstone.

Three volleys stilled the air
in hushed reverence broken by
the sound of taps playing in a
hillside cemetery.

When the salutes were rendered
and the flags lowered
black smoke rose to the heavens
as the land was harvested for the precious
rock that lived beneath.

Many veterans, especially those prior to WWI have their graves marked with a footstone, provided by the government. My Great Grandfather served before WWI in the horse cavalry, then lived until age 98 on his tobacco farm in Kentucky. The land was sold and since been strip mined.
594 · Mar 10
Moonshine Bottle
James Mar 10

Sitt'n and sipp'n on a PBR
Right hand pick'n on a steel guitar
The boy's roll up, say it's time to go
Gonna drive all night to see one more show

-- - - - - - -

Gotta stop in town gonna grab my girl
Hit that dance floor with spinning twirl
Bebop bopp'n with a stand-up bass
Count'n my steps, baby, just in case

-- - - -- - - -

Take'n a break with a jack and coke
Saw another sweet honey, she was tugg'n my coat
She pulled me out and across that floor
Ten seconds later we out the door

- -- -- - - - - - -

Drink'n moonshine whiskey from a mason jar
Stolen from the trunk of her daddy's black car
Heads bobb'n with the drummers beat
Feel my toes tapp'n gotta move my feet

- - - -- -- - - -

Back inside I saw my girl
Look on her face, man she was really sore
I gave her a drink from the mason jar
She loved me all night in the back of that car.

- -- - - - - - - - -

Listening to some Rockabilly music.  "Pass the Bottle" by The Devil's Daughters...couldn't help myself.
552 · Mar 22
Finding You Back Home
James Mar 22

I walked into the brewery and ordered up a beer
Sat down at the bar, said I was waiting for you here
When I finished drinking I walked across the floor
I saw a couple of old buddies from back before the war
I called over the waitress and bought them another round
They patted me on the shoulder, been a while since I hit town
It’s sure a lot of fun, I’m glad that I’d stopped in
But I’m looking across the room wondering if you’d come again

I settled with the waitress with her hand set on her hip
I reached deep into my pockets and found her a little tip
Then I walked out the door pulled my collar against then chill
Saw a couple street musicians playing in front of Macey’s grill
I handed them some money and they played a cheerful tune
I hung out on the street hoping that you’d show up soon
I listened to the trumpet and I moved with the beat
I watched the drummer keeping time tapping with his feet

The November air had started to get a little cool
So I walked down the street thought I’d shoot a little pool
I walked into the pool hall everybody started to cheer
They slapped me on the back and they bought me a little beer
I saw an old girlfriend from way back in the day
She put her arm around me and I knew I couldn’t stay
So I walked up Second Avenue and found a used bookstore
I stared into the window and thought I saw you sitting on the floor

I opened up the door and heard the bell ring
I got a cup of coffee and listened to Sinatra sing
I read a little Kipling and some Pablo Neruda too
I walked across the room and sat down next to you
I reached over and gently brushed my hand against your hand
You didn’t pull away even though you knew you can
I read to you from Byron and paused for a little while
You looked into my eyes and then I saw you smile.

An old sappy poem
547 · Apr 18
Moved
James Apr 18

What is it about beer
That makes my poetry
Bearable, even good;
Something about how
The words flow across
The page, or move;
They sure seem to be
Moving.
Blurred lines shaped
Like letters
Forming words that
Move hte srpite
Adn t76554rrrtghgfvbj u I I ibvvvq2aesdftbuml,3w4drfrbuhlinjmok,pl

526 · Apr 23
Lost Bottle
James Apr 23

I pulled the cork
from the last bottle of wine
and emptied it into a glass,
it filled just short of half
I savored the last drop
like it was my last meal
before execution
then searched
for a lost bottle of scotch

Just can't sleep, so I'm writing just to write.
483 · Mar 21
I'm Human
James Mar 21

When I first saw him
Standing on a street corner
He was wearing a sign around his neck
It was simple, white heavy stock paper
Written on with black magic marker.
I never got close enough to read the sign.
I walked passed on the other side of the road
Careful to avoid an uncomfortable glance.

Yesterday I saw a student in the library
He wore a sign around his neck,
The writing facing his clean pressed shirt;
A social experiment
To see how long people would hold
His gaze before reading the sign on his chest.

I observed this for an hour
And wondered at the awkwardness
Before I took my turn and stared into his eyes
For a solid minute, I thought about the man
On the street corner who I see every day
But have never looked at.

I reached out and turned the sign on the student's chest
“I’m Human,” is all that it said.

James Mar 2

Sleepless nights slaving over syllables
written in invisible ink

my eraser is at hand
in case a word shows through.

I shouldn't care
it's not like anyone will read it,

No one will see the tiny glimpse
of my soul, exposed to the world

or hear the scream coming from my lips

I keep them pursed together,
no sound can escape

Fingers spell-out the hearts desires
while the mind extinguishes any sign
of weakness

James Feb 1

From my desk, I can hear his song.
The song the Sparrow sings.
He sings his song with a voice so sweet
It's a tune that's meant for kings.
But I'm no king, yet he sings to me,
A poor man without a throne.
When tomorrow begins
He will come once again
To remind me that I'm not alone.

459 · May 22
Tuesday Afternoon (10w)
James May 22

I don't think
Monday morning
should start until
Tuesday afternoon.

456 · Jan 26
A Love Poem, Maybe
James Jan 26

Is cruel, the world has given you;
no peace you find under its dome.
Bound to a land that values not,
your beauty and service to your home.

In a caste, you live but not your own;
in poverty and servitude, you were born.
Your spirit is free and your heart is pure
but for love, you can only mourn.

So where are you now, my love so far
I'll rush to you in haste
to feel your skin against my breast --
feel the softness of your face.

I see you now when I close my eyes,
in a crumbling tower of stone.
Your words carry soft upon the breeze
but your life can never be your own.

You can pace the floors of your castle home
and in the poppy fields, you can sing.
You can dream of a life that's far away
under the guard of your Fisher King.

I would take you far away from there,
to a place, that's lush and green.
Where the bonds of your birth matter not
and you will live your life as a queen.

But you gave a pledge to your family
to honor them till death.
So I will wait to see you, my love,
When I take my last breath.

431 · Jun 7
Tomatoes By June
James Jun 7

A false Spring, I was fooled once
Tricked like the blooms on the azaleas
Whose petals fell with an early March frost.

I saw it coming this year,
Unlike last year, when the shoes came off,
Replaced by flip-flops, two months too soon.

This year, I wasn’t fooled
But my azaleas still bloomed.

The garden plot in my neighbor’s yard
Is muddy but freshly tilled.
He’s worked it every day,
Enjoying the short-sleeved warmth
Of the past few weeks
Hoping for tomatoes before June
Instead of July.

He’s out there now
With sandy-mud caked on his white Reeboks
Working bare handed,
Having given up on the gloves,
Only when they became too slick to use.

He just chucked a rock from his plot.  
It splashed in a pool from this morning’s rain,
Releasing a pair of Chickadees
Who were enjoying a mud puddle bath.

The flurry of wings flapping
Turned my head in time to see them disappear
Into one of the wax myrtles he planted to separate our yards.

I thought I had lost this poem...close call.  I got a notification that had been rejected but couldn't find it anywhere, then after a forever search through every file on my computer and every drawer in my desk I found the handwritten draft in a big pile of loose paper.  Whew.....
417 · Apr 3
Peace in My Soul
James Apr 3

Peace in my soul
Peace in my life
Peace in the Valley
Freedom from strife

Peace to my brother
Forgiveness for me
Prayer for my enemies
His light I see

James Mar 3

I felt you in my bed last night
felt your weight and your breath
your hair and your breasts
as they lay on my chest.

I heard your voice call to me in the night
the words soothed me and I slept
in your embrace knowing that our dreams
were merged, connecting us in a universe
set aflame and never consumed.

I saw you in the morning glow
through sun-filtered curtains,
the light shining on the curve of your mouth,
your lips calling me to your embrace.

I generally stay away from love poems, because I'm not good at them, but this came out.
411 · May 6
Road to Redemption
James May 6

Traffic was backed up on my morning drive.
My mind foggy and cluttered as I ride.
When a crazy thought entered my head
And off the main road, I turned instead
To travel down a strange and different route
And wondered at the road as it curved about.
Both lanes were lined with live and leafy trees
The world was a collage of dark browns and wild greens.
Sunlight creeping through the mossy mass
Danced and played behind each tree as I passed.

On and on, down the road, I drove
Until I stopped suddenly at a quiet abode.
An old farmhouse neatly hidden in the trees
Just waiting to be found by someone like me.
A tiny little place in great disrepair
Begging for someone to show a little care.
I couldn’t help but step away from my car
And stare in amazement from the road afar.
I walked closer through the tall damp grass
Past the rusty well pump and to the house at last.

With a heavy sigh, I took it all in.
The rock foundation and the old wood bin
The white paint all of it chipped and faded
Left the old house wind-beaten and nearly naked,
Its once stout walls, now gray and old
Let in the rain, the wind and even the cold.
The old tin roof baked orange-red with rust
Bellowed and moaned with each wind gust.
The front porch creaked and bowed under my weight
But, for some reason, it didn’t sound like a complaint.

As I stood on the porch I summoned my strength
And dared to go inside to have a quick peek.
The old brass knob gave easily with a twist
Releasing the latch with a loud metallic click.
The wooden front door slid open with grace
While a puff of stale dust hit me square in the face.
It opened to a room large and nearly bare
Except for a framed picture above an old rocking chair.
A few quick steps took me across the bare room
To that picture covered in dirt and a little bit of gloom.

A quick wipe with the sleeve of my shirt
Cleared the glass cover and removed the dirt.
The picture couldn’t have shown a happier sight,
A tidy little family posing in the clear sunlight.
A simple sight from a simpler time
Brought feelings of nostalgia and a tear to my eye.
With one final glance, I hung the picture back on the wall
And turned and walked down a short narrow hall
That led to a door that led outside.
And I found myself staring at this farm's greatest pride.

A grand orchard of apples and pear;
Not overgrown but tended with care.
The grass neatly trimmed around each tree
And a large Live Oak holding a swaying tire swing.
It was all encased inside a white wooden fence
Lined with wildflowers lush and dense.
But there was no sign of people, no sound but the breeze,
No squirrels in the trees, no birds, and no bees.
Nothing in this scene felt quite right
But, for some strange reason, I felt calm not fright.

Though I wanted to stay I knew I didn’t belong,
In this little orchard planted by a family now gone.
I walked back to the house and down the narrow hall.
And took one last look at the picture hanging on the wall.
I stared at the faces of the family in the scene
And smiled when I replaced it wiped fresh and clean.
I walked back to the door and breathed the fresh air
And turned one more time and saw the rocking chair
I stared for a moment barely believing my eyes
The chair was rocking back and forth in rhythmic time.

I watched for a moment and felt a calming peace,
All of my stress and worry, a sudden release.
Overcome with emotion there at the door
I cried for no reason and fell to the floor.
I felt hands on my shoulders and one on my head
I could hear their soft prayers for my soul they pled.
After a time, I stood and looked around
Inside and out they were nowhere to be found.
So back to my car I walked very slow
I started the engine and drove back home.

An old story I wrote, I may have put it up before.
403 · Apr 4
Shadows of the Trees
James Apr 4

I keep this address for you,
hoping one day you'll find your way home.
I know you won't,
it's been too long;
too many years
have wiped this place from your memory
or maybe it's my memory that's faded
or maybe it's jaded
with dreams and visions
existing between the realms of imagination
and twisted reality,
my reality
where numbness isn't a curse
and I don't see your silhouette
in the shadows of the trees

Just some junk because I've got nothing better to write about today.
James May 31

The desert heat in July
is much the same as it is in May,
I've felt it in both months,
dry, stifling -- dry, and cold at night.

The desert tortoise comes out;
I've found him during the day
in the shade of a creosote bush
half in and half out of his dug burrow.

When I was twenty-two
I didn't see the beauty
in the sand carved monuments,
the mountain steps

draped in crimson tones,
backlit with a setting sun --
A soldier on a rocky hillside
can stop to take a breath,

A moments rest and a blink
to capture the scene;
a picture not viewed again
for twenty years.

Distance is false in the heatwaves
the dust from marching feet
rises like smoke from a wildfire
Men look like shimmering ghosts in the cloud
and in my memory, they fade away.

I'm working on a better title...and a better poem.
386 · Jan 3
Patchwork world
James Jan 3

It’s a patchwork world
Full of patchwork people
Made up from pieces of last year’s lives

And patchwork families
Share patchwork time
Eating quiet meals from take-out dives.

With patchwork feelings
And patchwork ties
Too many husbands and too many wives.

A 2-minute drill poem.  Whenever I feel like I can't write I try to write a short poem in 2 minutes.  Sometimes they aren't bad.
381 · May 23
A Little Inspiration
James May 23

It’s a terribly dreary and gloomy day
No good for fun
Don’t want to play
The sun is hidden behind dark clouds
Wrapped in a long,  lonesome shroud
I’m stuck inside with my only friend
An old wood-gripped fountain pen
Who doesn’t much want to play it seems
Leaving me to long and lonely dreams
So what can I do on such a day
But stare out my window, think and pray
I’ll try again to entice my friend
Maybe he has a few words to lend
I need a verse to start my page
To free me from this earthly cage
Something to free my imagination
Just a little vernacular donation
All I need is just a start
Then I can perfect my wordy art -
Just one second,
What’s that I see?
The Sun peeking through the clouds
Saying hello to me.

I used to love to write like this.  I wonder where it went?
371 · May 1
Pissing in my Yard
James May 1

I love the bowed steps
of my back porch,
the weathered boards
and fading red paint.
I love my chair,
handcrafted by me
and my table because you hold
my beer
so my hands don't get wet
with the sweat of a warm Spring evening.
And I love the oak tree
with limbs hanging over,
shading the glare of the setting sun.
And I love the bushes
that run along the side of my yard
blocking the view from my neighbors
so they can't see me piss towards their house.

369 · Mar 30
1-Word Poem
James May 25

I sleep with my window open
letting in the cool summer breeze.
It stormed today and the air is thick
and damp.
But the air feels good on my bare feet.
When I was a child we spent summer nights
sleeping on my grandmother's screened porch.
The only escape from the Alabama heat
was the wind after a thunderstorm;
softened by the pines outside
and the mesh screen that surrounded us.
The wind brought the night sounds
from the Southern woods and the smell
of a fresh rain-soaked earth sent me to sleep.

I smell that smell tonight.
363 · May 2
I Can Hear The Chime
James May 2

This old banjo ain't getting any sweeter
I can't keep time with the rhyme and the meter
My fingers fumble as the music tumbles
One sheet after another to the floor

I feel the verse inside me
The notes, they fight to be free
When I hear the ping of a broken string
The melody fades away

In my hands the instrument is heavy
I close my eyes, I know I'm not ready
But in my mind I can hear the chime
And I know my time is coming.

359 · Jan 5
Strings of Melodies
James Jan 5

Strings of melodies dance in the air
With scents of honeydew and citrus
My tongue reaches out to catch the drops
As they pass over my head and my ears
Are enchanted with the sounds of viola
Plucked in a deep rhythmic harmony
And my thirst is quenched by the juices of
Sweet memories passing by.

James May 29

The bugler sounds reveille
We all stand to --
In quiet remembrance
For those precious few
Who never came home
To tell their tales --
And to those who returned
To their own private Hell.
We give them one day
Of our treasured lives
And beat our breasts
To show our pride.
But when the sun sets
On this star-spangled day
Will we forget their price
until next May?

AATW

For Memorial Day.
James Jun 22

Pinto beans and cornbread

carried us through the lean times;
twice a week they kept us fed
through the layoffs at the carpet mill
and when they quit building houses on the lake.

Daddy went north to dig coal
in the Kentucky mines.
Momma helped us forget with
tomato soup from a can
and grilled cheese from the big block
she bought each week with her stamps.

She hummed "I'll Fly Away"
while she poured a little milk into the pot
and gently turned each sandwich
on her cast iron skillet
I wondered then if she sang that song
while she worked nights in the sock factory
and I wonder now if that was the only hymn she knew
or if she was just ready
to fly away to "God's celestial shore"

I never asked
but every time I eat a grilled cheese
cut in a diagonal slice
and sopped in tomato soup
I wonder if she ever found that
"land where joys will never end"

My mother is still alive and singing hymns just in case anyone was wondering.
James Jun 2

Walking the streets before dawn
you looked and her light was on
you saw her fare
but didn't care
and wonder where your money's all gone

Poor Bill, he never did learn
he saved all the money he could earn
to pay a sweet lady
at a place that was shady
and wonders why his pecker still burns

From my comments on TP's Limerick" Ouch!!" "Which was a comment on my poem Here's One For You" which was not an autobiography.  Feel free to contribute.
https://hellopoetry.com/poem/1970905/ouch-limerick/
James Jun 12

Yesterday I played
my banjo for a crowd

My nerves were all a mess
but the notes rang pure and loud

I opened with a lick
a bluegrass pinch and slide

And the crowd got deathly quiet
mine was the only sound inside

I tried not to notice
I didn't look them in the eye

I just rolled my fingers across the strings
and enjoyed that joyful high

When the song was over
all eyes were tuned to me

Everyone applauded
the banjo they came to see.

Yesterday I played my banjo in public for the first time.  It was a scary experience...but so much fun.
James May 1

Where did you go, Duke?
You left without a goodbye.
I saw you last night
in old black and white,
on a silver screen
you tipped your hat to me
left a word to the wise,
a nod, and a grin --
When I saw you ride off
and the sun set
on a late night channel
I looked for my grandfather's
chair, and in the memories
of a child, I saw the smile
on his rugged face
knowing his hero
would ride again
next Sunday.

My Grandfather loved John Wayne movies and so do I.  My fondest memories were sitting with my grandfather, watching a John Wayne western.  I miss them both.
327 · May 5
Dancing Fool
James May 5

Dress in a swirl  I'll give you a twirl
Swing you round then back to the ground
then back again with a count,
1, 2, 3
step
1, 2, 3
step
dip
twirl
step... keeping time
with the caller's rhyme.
Heels tapping
and old men slapping
their knee's to the rhythm of a fiddlers beat.
I'm not much of a dancer
more of a tip-toeing prancer
But I love to move
when I feel the groove.
No rhythm,
no grace
but I'm quick with the pace.
My steps may be false,
but I do love the waltz.
Bet you never knew
that I was a dancing fool.
A good ol' boy who loves a girl
and wants nothing more
than to give her a whirl;
to have her alone on a big dance floor
and dance all night till her feet are sore...
Just so I can take her home and rub them.

An oldie
James Apr 27

We took a trip in the summer of '98
Canoeing down the Cumberland River.
A rented boat, two extra paddles,
A cooler secured with duct tape,
Sunscreen – and we were ready to go.
It was her first time in a canoe,
Her first time on the river – her first time,
With me --
Majestic is overused in language
But relevant in the jagged rock walls
Cascading into rapids, churning white
Over rocks deposited an Ice Age ago
And in the boulders, glacial deposits --
Monuments to the God who carved the valleys
And molded the mountains around them --
When the river ran to deeper water
The splash of a paddle broke the
Rhythm of a beating heart
And her hair rested on my chest
While the river cradled us
In her gently flowing arms
And we found serenity with the gar
And the bluegill.

325 · May 8
Spiritual Rejuvenation
James May 8

I hate when people disappear,
it leaves me wondering -- why?

Goodbyes aren't necessary,
and no one wants to listen
to a farewell speech
because honestly,
who cares --

The world is ripe
with self-indulgence,
self-pity.

There are never enough compliments,
enough praise,
enough attention
to satisfy our lust for self-gratification.
So we leave in search of
spiritual rejuvenation
hoping to return
revived.

There is no such thing.
316 · Apr 14
Pardon Me, Boy
James Apr 14

"Pardon me, boy, but isn't that
the Chattanooga Choo-choo"
People watched as we sang
on the banks of the Tennessee River.
We danced on the sidewalk with the setting sun
to the rhythm of clapping hands
and a far away sax, moaning through crowded alleys.

The city breaths at night
and pulses with the sounds
of street musicians, playing
for a few bucks and some coins.

The foot bridge is busy
on a warm Spring night
joggers dodge tourists
and the locals ignore them both;
children lick ice cream
and mom searches for the next wine bar,
while college students huddle under the bridge
and lovers, young and old
are moved by the mood of the city lights.

I  spent last night in Chattanooga, Tennessee
316 · Feb 24
Too Small to breathe
James Feb 24

There is no substitute for hunger
No pain can replace the emptiness of starvation
And depression only serves as an appetizer
Not able to stave off the horrors of nights spent awake,  
Afraid of the dark and the sounds that merge
Into a loud roar, a deafening scream only heard by me

Lights are blinding when the world stops spinning
Amplifying every sensation and the sound of a beating heart
Is all I can hear when paralysis takes over --
Faces meld into distorted shapes when the walls
Creep closer and the floor rises to greet the ceiling
As it slides down, trapping me in a world
That’s too small to breathe.

305 · Mar 9
On the Rocks
James Mar 9

I don't care if my glass is half full
or half empty,
just as long as there is something left to drink.

293 · Apr 16
Jazz IS Where It's At
James Apr 16

I was born in the Bluegrass state
and I love to hear the fiddle strings hum.
Banjo pickers get all the fame
and you can hear the clogger's heels
tapping through the holler
But when I'm down on the river front
and in the mood to play
I crave the pull of the slide trombone,
and the sad moan of a saxophone
gets me in the mood.
So quit sending me all these bluegrass tunes
Scruggs and Flatt, and all that;
cuz baby, Jazz is where it's at.

This poem is going to be featured in Jersey Jazz, the journal for the New Jersey Jazz Society in July.
James May 13

Caring hands pick me up when I fall
Measured me with marks each year on the wall
Read to me at night before I slept
Wiped my tears when I was scared; when I wept
Cleaned my cuts and kissed my bruise
Taught me it was alright sometimes to lose
Took me to church to teach me the way
Took a belt to my butt when I lost my way
Gave me a hug when my heart got broke
Cheered me up with a dumb, corny joke
Cried for me when I left home
Prayed for me when I began to roam--
Now I’m grown and far away
But you still love me every day
Still watching over me, brave and bold
Holding me in your heart, never letting go.

Last Year's Mother's Day Poem.
286 · Feb 27
Looking Into Your World
James Feb 27

My world stops in India
in a square on the streets
of Mumbai, where children
dance in a crowded market.
In two weeks the streets
and the people in them
will be bathed in color

Five floors above
beneath a small balcony
decorated with rugs and drying clothes
your window to the world
is open, but your heart is closed
to the foreign man looking up

A poet can write about lost love
but love can never be lost
and love will never fade
but love can be forbidden
a secret kept hidden away

I've never been to India, but I have a dear friend from Mumbai, who very soon will be dogging colored dye when Holi (The Festival of Colour) begins March 12.

The last stanza was the second poem I ever wrote, written on this date last year.
James Feb 26

Misty midnight eyes stare at empty skies
Illusions of dreams and joyful memories
Dancing on dying stars draped in purple lace
Nightly swordsman slay the moon and birth the sun
Igniting the celestial potter's furnace --
Gathering clay turned on wheels of polished stone
Hearts delicately smoothed by crafter's fingers
Together burn in the light of a nova

271 · Jan 6
Sugar'd-Up Grits
James Jan 6

"Y'all ready to order?"  She said with a little sideways grin
and a little sass.
She looked down at me with her notepad and pen at the ready.
"Just the country breakfast," an easy enough order.
"How you want your eggs?"
"Over easy."
"That's runny yoke,"
"Yes, mam."
"You want grits and toast?"
"That'd be great."
"Have it out in a minute, what about you?' she said to my friend without looking at him.  
He wasn't from around here,
everybody knew it. The New York Yankees hat gave him away.
"I'll um...I'll...hmm...I'll have the same thing."
She glanced at him with a condescending smile,
"with grits and toast?"
'Sure, that...sounds good."
She gave a chuckle as she wrote down his order.
"Back in a minute with some fresh coffee."

She was a little bit older than the other girls
and her shorts weren't quite as short,
but she'd learned to get tips with attitude
and country boys love sassy waitresses,
and she knew it.
She refilled our coffee then stood back
with one hand on her hip, coffee pot in the other.
All her weight was on one foot
making her hip jut out just enough
"Anything else I can get you boys?"
"No thank you, were good," I said,
and she moved around through her other tables,
filling coffee and laughing at a stupid joke from a truck driver
and another from Judge Taylor,
he comes every Saturday Morning.
She can't stand him, but he tips well, so she laughs even better.

A minute later she was back with our breakfast.
I watched Kyle, my friend stare at his grits then look at mine.
She saw him too.
"Something wrong honey?"
"Oh, no. Everything is fine. Do you have any sugar
or maybe some honey?"
You could feel the room get quiet.
"You mean for your coffee?"
"No for my grits."
Up to now everything had been okay.
Aside from the Brooklyn accent
and the Yankees hat he was an alright guy,
but any cred he had gained with good manners was now gone.
"You sure about that honey, Sugar?" She said with a laugh.
I looked at my friend and gave him a side-to-side head shake.
He just looked at me blankly.
"I'll get it for you but if you put sugar on them grits,
I'm going to pour 'em in your lap."
"They're fine just like they are," he said.
"Glad to hear it Honey.  Holler if you need anything."
It was a statement, not a question
and she went back to here rounds.

I mixed my eggs in my grits and ate
and Kyle did the same.
We talked about religion, football and the election,
had our coffee refilled one more time,
then we paid.
At the counter, the waitress asked if our meal was good.
"Everything was great." I lied,
the grits were a little runny.

I wrote this back in August after eating breakfast in a little greasy spoon diner with a friend from New York.  It played out pretty much like it is written.
267 · Apr 27
For My Sons
James Apr 27

Never use the word hate
Brush your teeth before a date
Always enjoy a beautiful sight
Never be the first to start a fight
Remember your siblings and love each other
Never forget to call your mother
Always respect the power of a gun
Take time for yourself and have a little fun
Never disrespect your boss
Always be reverent before the cross
Don't blow your money on worthless junk
Always keep your head and never get drunk
Never unjustly take a life
Always love and honor your wife
Don't degrade or beat your child
Never take an animal away from the wild
Never believe a politician
Respect the sanctity of tradition
Never make a girl pay for dinner
You don't always have to be the winner
Stand tall and be a man
Always do the best you can

261 · Apr 5
Cerebral Peace
James Apr 5

STOP!!!!
The person at this address has moved

He went to find his mind
it left a while ago

For a year he's been fumbling around
aimlessly without a brain

bumping into walls and stubbing his toe
walking blindly through cities with nowhere to go

Now he's left,
in search of cerebral peace

I'll let you know if he finds it.

255 · Jun 5
The Fiddler's Ghost
James Jun 5

I knew a man in New Amsterdam
He played the fiddle
but you never would know it.

He danced the soft shoe
while he fiddled for you
If you asked he would certainly show it --

He made it himself
and kept it stored on a shelf
in his shop down on North Market.

And on a Saturday night
when the weather was right
we drove our buggy across the street and parked it.

We waited till dark
and napped while we parked
until we heard the fiddle strings moaning.

Then we would dance in the street
to the rhythm and beat
and felt the music on the air, it was floating--

The old man died
in the winter one night
and no one ever found his fiddle

But we can still hear its sound,
we look but it can't be found
it's become the towns oddest riddle.

249 · Apr 29
Poetry Dies on Fridays
James Apr 29

Poetry fades a little on Thursdays
It’s failing breath
Can’t be heard above a whisper,
Ignored by most and unattended
By the rest – admired by a few
Timid minds for its beauty
And reviled for its grace,
It’s left to die on Friday;
Saturday’s morning sun
Can’t revive the words
Sacrificed in an empty temple
On an alter wet with
Last week's verse

Friday has finally arrived
Time to forget the disappointments
Of yesterday's failed experiments.
Failure is part of the fun, you know;
I will remember that when I think of you
Tonight and when I curse you tomorrow
And I will, too, curse you
I’ll curse you with every breath
And every thought
And every step I take away from
The pain and the anxiety
I feel when I stare at your empty face,
A blank gaze – a soulless form
Consumed with self and conceit.

248 · Jan 18
Wadded-Up Poem
James Jan 18

"It was a good poem,"
the poet said to his poet friend.
"I think your best work yet."

The poet offered a smirk
as he watched his wadded-up poem float away.
"It doesn't matter, no one would have read it anyway."

James Apr 26

I met a girl named Becky Shorty
She looked a bit North of forty
Her eyes were bright
Her body was tight
But her nose was long and warty

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