Side of Grits


Maybe a bird will sing

this style of running is madness, across boulevards to bars
unhinged from time and reality, from the liquor
and many beers, from the thrumping trumpets of
jazz nightclubs and rotten gin joints named after long dead
poets and writers who never would have set foot in such places
for reasons they may disagree with if exclaimed by modern
hopeful usurpers of the night, written word, spoken outlaw, now plain
and childish in too aggressive a manner, and limp, and forgetful
of life and electricity, hollow footsteps in high class mausoleums
where is the cemetery? the bones of our elders? fed to dogs in a deep
sleep and dreaming of elderberry bushes across open fields, far
from sidewalks and human hands and fingers and triggers and metal
machines no animal understands or wants or cares for
this style of running is madness, the way the whistle blows
the way the truncheons fly and flies fly and screams fly choked
in the bellicose shift from dusk to dawn, the end of rotten gin joints
the birth of churchgoers and children, and maybe a bird will sing
from a low enough branch for us to hear in time, in time to finish
in time to crawl to the grated window and witness one more
gust of life giving sunlight, and then we will know it is okay to die

James H Duncan is a New York native, a connoisseur of dirt-cheap wine, and has recently released Ballast, his third collection of poetry. Although a graduate of Southern Vermont College, he considers himself a lifelong student of the road, picking up non-credit courses in local dive bars, all-night cafes, and used book stores. Plainsongs, Reed Magazine, Up The Staircase, The Aurorean, and The Homestead Review, among others, have welcomed his poetry.

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