D. R. JAMES
Author Feature - July 2021
Born in Ohio, raised in Illinois, and higher-ed-ed in Michigan, Iowa, and Oregon, D. R. James now lives in the woods east of Saugatuck, Michigan, with his wife, psychotherapist Suzy Doyle. Between them they have six adult children and six grandchildren and enjoy cycling the backroads skirting Lake Michigan. During his 43 years of teaching, James has spent 36 of them teaching writing, literature, and peace studies, and coaching students toward academic success, at a small, liberal arts college. He earned an MA+ in English at the University of Iowa and an MFA in Poetry at Pacific University (Oregon). His nine poetry collections include the books Since Everything Is All I’ve Got (March Street Press, 2011) and If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017) and the chapbooks Why War and Split-Level (Finishing Line Press, 2014, 2017), Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box, 2019) and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2020). His micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and downloadable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project. Arriving relatively late on the poetry scene (just shy of 50), he has since published individual poems in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals. The six poems featured here are from a new book, Mobius Trip, to be published in late 2021 or early 2022 by Dos Madres Press.
The sky wore the regalia of flames but
turned lavender-violet quietude
in a moment's romance. And the breeze, how
it finessed everything and cradled me.
Awakened by the dazzle, I reposed—
riveted, infused, imbued by satin.
Gift after gift from ginger tongues, then glow
audible like visions. It was never
a coddling. The nod from the heavens
judged some memories mere indulgence—and grudge.
KINGDOM OF GAUZE
A frothed fog enshrouds the loud melodies
of these woods: pileateds’ sniggering,
the squawks and meows of crow and catbird.
Their row refracts through pluming detachment
from swing, lane, foothills, the world. Unperturbed,
bloused in this low-slung ceiling, by non-speed
I’m borne, desperate for nothing obscured here—
nor certifiable forgiveness, nor
angling prophecies, nor the typhooning
bouquets of some charlatan’s miseries.
WAIT FOR IT
The forecast hovers between soggy and
gratitude, verges on awe, balances
muted light against lopsided gladness.
Meanwhile (though Cosmos clatters its remote
stones, and Existence casts its Theater
of the Unheard from among the docile),
the man’s morning’s pouring itself into
day—and he stares off, fathoming the frayed
front sliding past outside has flagged in him
imponderable streaks of fleeting joy.
ON VELVET ISLAND
Attar from a trellis sifting onto
the yard, suffused with a cure for the caged
mind cycling mindlessly, and buffets of
birdsong unhinging the accord between
brain haze and conflux of the flustered streams
of vexed schemes. Trees tell me to stroke my beard!
All day I tend the flock, soothe the startled
ruffs above their vestments, their opera down
to pure lilt, their voltage to no-danger
zones. I ransom time from mocking desire.
—somewhat after G. M. Hopkins
Rococo of branches’ scribbled bliss (to
skies of cirrus filtering streaking-linen
grace; to fuzzed nubs of antlers on young bucks
out back; rotunda’d, wind-felled oaks; insects'
notes; hedges shivered and lulled; dawn, water,
and dune; to plants’ husks, tremors, vibrations,
and tongues; stems’ tubes sculpted, impromptu, and
smooth-furred; to whatso is furtive, vital,
and taut-calm; still-strung; benignant-brute), whose
lyrics’ candor captures absolution.
YOU IGNITED ME
You ignited me, all my dried branches:
your perch an aperture up love’s lattice,
your wind rending me kindling, spinning and
snapping and ruining my stalks like slats
blastified, remnants of sadness then set
afire. How cowed by coma commitment
I’d been! But likewise you replanted me,
reinstalled me in watered cavities,
encased my re-emerging sheaves, ashen
indication of demise enlivened.
One lake, one wave, one drop—one grain, one more
ripple in the sand on a beach, one beach,
one shore—one path, one stair, one step, one board,
one nail in the grain—one blade, one cluster
of dune-borne grass, one passage—one cottage,
one porch, one chair under shadow of an
eave—one breeze, one heat, one sun—one day, one
morning, one hour, one thought in the mind of
a soul, in his living, in his being,
in his life—one sky, one current, one breath.