Two Poems by David James

“Inside many of us/is a small old man/who wants to get out.”
                                                         “Rumpelstiltskin,” Anne Sexton

And inside that small old man
is a smaller old woman who can’t believe
she’s in this mess.
Of all things, to be inside a man
is her biggest pet peeve.

                   But inside the woman, under that blue dress,
is a baby, sucking its thumb,
kicking both legs. The woman
hopes for a girl
but will take, and love, whatever comes.

                                      Inside the baby, blooming like a plant,
is the future, yelling from a distance
that we must change our ways.

                                                                            Inside many of us, that voice
comes through loud and clear only in moments of silence.



Sounds like five banshees
out there, growling in the rain,
tossing their hair
in the tree branches and spitting
on everything in sight.
Like waves on a rough sea,
the wind rises and pounds,
barrels into the ground.

I’m here alone tonight as my wife
stays with her dying mom up north,
doing the needful. Maybe
the banshees are just passing through
on their way to Caseville to pull
a few strings, cut some ties, break a heart.
I imagine the spirits staring with hollow eyes,
mouths open, wailing away with teeth that bleed.

Whether it’s legend or it’s real,
the winds blow, people die
and in the sad hearts of those left behind,
the world sighs,
bows its head, takes a knee.


David James has published seven books, six chapbooks and has had more than thirty one-act plays produced. After forty-five years of working in higher education, James recently retired and is loving it.

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