Tuesday 5 May 2020

2 Poems by D. R. James

Lakeside Bird Feeder, First Day

It should’ve taken only that scouting,
squawking jay to get the word out.

Framed by a pane, on a perch,
he was posed, a post card, puffed

against the brittle cold. His stylish
scarf feathers flicked an impatient face,

and his scruffy topknot busily signaled
who knew who in the neighborhood:

“Easy Supreme and Sunflower Mélange
swinging free off this deck!” See, he’d need

some wirier guys to stir it up, to urge
the tiny silo to flowing so he could

swoop in, scoop out the run-off: “Anyone
game enough to give it a go?” But, no.

And now, not a single soul for supper.

—first published in A Little Instability without Birds (Finishing Line Press, 2006)

Lakeside Bird Feeder, Squirrels

Now if I had ambition I’d be
this kung fu squirrel, this lighter one,
this Jackie Chan, scaling stucco

to ledge to chimney to the hovering skid
of the evil whiz kid’s waffling chopper,
perpetual motion my only gear,

my sidekick wacky as this blacker one,
who tries but can’t quite nab his half
of the substantial stash. Their

choreography is manic, their fight scenes
replete with wall-walking, roof leaping,
jumps across gaps and gorges—all

their own improv’d stunts, every feat
a fleeting, one-take opportunity. It’s
those reflexes that make the difference:

when gravity catches their rare missteps
they can spin around an inch-thick span
of diagonal steel or the slippery rim

of a seed-spill dish, always squirming
all four feet first—whereas I’d just drop,
back-ass-down to the unforgiving earth,

my spindly claws and my mangy tail
spread like a shredded chute, a plea
for anyone at all to catch me. So,

I’ll leave these antics to my friends,
for today, the squirrels, until I can find
a way to foil them, deter them from

this wintertime welfare I’ve intended
for the birds, whose more manageable
business will give me the docile pleasure

I’ve been seeking: sitting here in a chair,
swathed in luscious listlessness, slinging
these escape lines toward anywhere I wish.

—first published in Psychological Clock (Pudding House Publications, 2007)


D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years and lives in the woods near 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. https://www.amazon.com/author/


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