“Like a Brick to the Head” by David James

David James


Here’s your mistake back
—Connie Deanovich, “Divestiture”

And here’s your forever love for me
back, along with your African violets,
a toothbrush, a half empty bottle of Bushmill’s.

Do you want the Miles Davis
and Dave Brubeck Quartet

CDs, or will it kill
you to let me keep them? I do have some
good memories—Wheatland, Blackthorn

Pub, Friday night bonfires, that weekend in Niagara Falls.
But here’s a list of all the dumb

and spiteful things you did to me: a hair from the unborn
baby we never had; a corner slice of lemon cake
from the wedding reception lost in time;

a doll for the granddaughter
we left behind in theory; the ache

in my heart drowning in the slime
of another rainy day. They’re all rainy days now.
Here’s my hope, shriveling. Here’s my broken joy.

Here’s my new life, love letters ripped to shreds,
which I’ll have to reassemble somehow.

from Rattle #54, Winter 2016

[download audio]


David James: “I’ve noticed the older I get, the more desperate my poems become. The urge to write is stronger, but somehow harder to accomplish with increased responsibilities, duties, ailments, commitments. I want a poem to extend my day, my world. I want a poem to save my children and bless my grandchildren. I want a poem to carry my pleas up to heaven and find some open ears. As age hits me in the face and gut, I want poetry to shake my heart into something younger and healthier. I want poetry to give me a brand new life. Of course, I know it can’t, and there’s the fucking rub.”

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