Poetry: “For Therapy, I Mix Metaphors”and other poems, by D.R. James

For Therapy, I Mix Metaphors

From a frozen wedge of machine-split pine,
tossed on this settling fire, one frayed, martyred
fiber curls back and away like a wire, then
flares, a flame racing the length of a fuse.
Imagine this my innermost strand, a barely-dirt
two-track off Frost’s road less traveled, a thin,
trembling thread of desire, the uncharted blue vein
of a tundral highway. Or in some dread cloister
it dreams, and a sillier spirit suddenly moves—
like four fresh fingers over flamenco frets,
like dumb elegance speaking Old Florentine,
never meaning one of its singing words.
It might dance—Tejana, Zydeco, any twenty
Liebeslieder Waltzes, any juking jumble
of a barrel-house blues—wherever rose
an arousing tune, the thrum of a Kenyan
drumming, the merest notion of Motown soul.
I do know: there must be this lost but lively cord,
an original nerve, perhaps abandoned, or jammed
as if into an airless cavity of my old house. 
It waits, to spark, to catch, its insulated nest
punctured by the stray tip of a driven nail,
craving some risky remodeling, that annoying
era of air compressor, plaster grit, dumpster,
and the exuberant exhalation of ancient dust.
            —first published in Lost Enough (Finishing Line Press, 2007)

One’s Obsessions

            —for Marvin Bell
Like gates to a labyrinth, they unlock
imagination to euphoric, mazed
brains, inflammatory wildernesses
of appreciation, magnetic sumps
of innuendo censored from belief.
Studies of blunt insurrection toward truths,
studies of caged aims, unpinnacled peaks,
they abhor bores in elite atmospheres,
quicksands of theory fossilized for all,
glacierized sap sold as veracity.
            —first published in Escape into Life

Lost Enough

If you’re lost enough, then the experience of now
is your guide to what comes next.
                                                —William Stafford
Thank god, if that’s who’s to thank,
for this open territory called lost.
Found right now would mean
everything’s precisely the way
it’s apparently supposed to be.  I’ve
been there!  And I know you were
watching me watching my every
treacherous step, dragging along
that narrow sledge of expectations,
because I happened to see you, too—
the chafing around your blue-white
wrists, your neck, the disjointed gaze
in your conversation, those nerves
you couldn’t seem to push aside
too often—there, where the questions came
as tepid waves and our answers met
with all those nodding heads.  I’m sorry
I didn’t see to take your trembling hand.
Should I have felt it reaching when I
slipped forever from that room?  Oh,
I was in such a rush to get myself lost,
with this just luckily coming next.
And now, how about you?
Yes, what about you?
            —first published in Lost Enough (Finishing Line Press, 2007)

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 35 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, his latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), the microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project, and a new chapbook, Flip Requiem, was released in Spring 2020 (Dos Madres Press). www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage

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