the poetry knook, the poetry of stephen m. james

Poems with the tag ‘marriage’

Something’s in the water

(A meditation for Mother’s Day and Christmas)

“Something’s in the water.” Chuckles surround.
“I’m due. Get ‘em out with spicy Thai.”
Down in straps infants spit-up over shoulder and lapse
the recurring flow–before nine and after one,
suckling two, singled out, like the single ones so few
within the stained. Glass. Body–broken.
Created to create, duty to do, should we adopt, a different view?
Turn a cheek when asked if trying instead of
shoving our Brothers and Sisters, sighing:

A gleam in God’s eye, a moat in mine.
Doused at a shower: games and pastel flower
present from the eye, a tear, ducks out early dashing hope
upon the rocks by Babylonian stream, the placenta’s quite salty,
but ’tis sweeter than bare melancholy.

Christened: yet another granny or grandpa’s claim,
last week’s was not averse to holy, genocidal names–
ache and money enough can get triple the glow, the pound,
the flesh, the ounce add up every week, you know, weighing down,
C-cups runneth over to nursery wants ten more
fingers, ten more toes, to fight the battle
in the basement of babies booming below.

Impregnated with fertility in winter–in spring:
proud pistils sing standing up theirs in-carnations
on Sunday two of–May the un-mothered run away.
But no matter the year, we worship a child in the end:
bowing to our cherubs in bathrobes, tiny babes in bulletin,
sliding through choruses on the backs of asses to Bethlehem.

For God so loved the world that he sent an advent series
every year to remind the shepherdess, in her barren fields,
to treasure up these things and ponder them.


Time in a queen’s single slough

The one time, I’d give up time–twice,
as fast as chlorophyll leaves fall
to the ground: blood. Oranges coupled with bitters,
the saving grace: incoherent post-midnight mumblings of the past
day passing, air calms, (eupnea)
Leviathan to break free, locked up in this Loch
Lethargy desiring, to dote its anti-dote, anticipating
the smearing of oil, and the anointed,
return the plastic clamshell, tearing away,
thermoformed around a thermometer’s rising crescent,
carmine colored by parasitic spirits leaving,
into veins cautiously cauterizing
a brand. New. Return to each single second
is not difficult to imagine place to serve,
time in a queen’s single slough, tossing,
turning slowly-recalling at once,
upon a time.


Pommelled fruit

Back up against a tree,
golden foliage shelters the curves,
freckled islands, a desert
of smooth sand, gripped by palms
soaked in the sweet, salty sweat of a summer night
squeezed of the juice from a fallen fruit.


God had a sense of humor

God had a sense
of humor that he didn’t share with His angels
entertaining Adam and Eve as they created Seth.
Laughter was heard on a wedding night
between the pain and the pleasure:
ingredients for a sticky sauce
that adheres family portraits and
slippery noodles to a single, circular wall.


You’ve stopped up my pen

my well, my pad, you’ve stopped up my pen, for I scribe on you every night,
pinning my anger to the ground, you hold fast

my million pieces, my puzzle, curiosity arousing me over and over
the horizon of this sparrow’s eye,

my perfect, my storm, I am wall-eyed and hooked wallowing
in the night so young an infant, the day still suckles with

my revelation, my special–burned into, an image, cloth
buried in a broken body

my mouthwash, my goodnight, I may never brush my teeth,
and gum your neck at thirty,

my lion, my lamb, doodles on the page became your name,
the softest thorns of the vineyard snag my skin,

my friend, my lover, your experiences, story, and knowledge
poured over an altar for me.
and all you get is I
will love you more than knowledge,
more permanently, more pertinently than life,
for life, for you.


Tigers (or your tormentors)

I never wanted to kill for anyone,
until you held me,
down, your face rests
on my sox and shoes slide,
next to you I wanted to rise and slay
tigers,

Not cuddly pillows
nor caged cubs
that suckle dreams of independence,
but savannah-bred savages and ice-aged
mastodons and saber-toothed
tigers

Growling, pouncing a bout:
boxers breathlessly clinched,
our softest thorns snag
ear and hair, teeth
marks, cross hairs align with
tigers

These slabs of meat began to come
into my head, I will provide
soup around a blazing campfire,
ladling brisket and blade that bleed
warmth under the fur of our
tigers.


June Widow (after Saving Private Ryan)

If I pick her, she will be torn,
beautiful flowers, back over the pond, in a vase,
the French countryside–I’ve seen her wear it on Sundays,
the place we met–the demolished cafes–sans the coffee;
we share memory of mothers with the crash of cannons,
beyond the river where red was roses and Revlon
and knee cuts on the playground,
we left our school-teaching-selves:
like the rubble above our brothers
that collapsed our bridge home.


Preparation for the hearth

Foot friction, she smiles,
“sandals braking down cause duck-walk,” I say,
and fly across the claymated basement,
jettied like the muddy earth encircling.

mortarboards form next week
and fly across another room:
pots will be removed from the kiln,
placed on selling shelves with resumes,

her fingers resume, slippery nails filled,
stuffed to overflow like the glazing shelves,
“this is craft, not art,” curtly said.
the adding . . .subtracting . . .centripetal . . . centrifugal. . .

“what color should this one should be?”
her call? will clay return to rock
for defeating paper,
will she write

her mark brandishing,
initializing the final piece
this Friday night,
the final week,
to fire.


Getting her off, his chest

He’s spent the hour deciding how to get her head to her pillow and off his chest where lay her silhouetted cheekbones, high and smooth, against his sternum rising slow. His eyes–breaths before closing–stay ajar to see his reason–her–to open: sweat with hair, her humid breath undulates love. He’s lost this hour, the first of twenty-four, in thought, recounts this day, ceremony, the vows, her muddy eyes now veiled in sleep, her arms, his, interwoved in figure eight. He grasps for pen and pad on nightstand out of reach to write his joy, his words: hopeful to not to wake his bride from needed rest.


Scribbling an idea about an affair with the pool boy

sitting by the window, upstairs, next to our bed,
she envisions him dragging her vigorously onto my favorite sheets,
the navy blue ones with maroon highlights.
She grins, remembering the time she short-sheeted me and we tried to sleep on the floor and we ended up in a pillow fight.

He’s sucking the film off the water, she writes
and collecting it inside a small container that reads “We Suck Pool Service.”
(sounds like a bad porn)?she jots in the margin.
moving between the shed and the house he disappears.
Where could he be?
Is he stepping up the stairs to the door that the husband carried her across when the house closed? (Is this clich?, Stephen?)?she continues imagining the rapture of a one-hour stand.
the film would remain:
when he leaves to pick his motherless child up from day-care,
that night when the husband (help!?need name!) would arrive home,
the next day when he (hubby) wants to dive in the pool.

The teenager knocks on the bedroom door.
She allows the wood pulp to soak up her fountain ink,
before she removes the tip,
love always, your wife?she scribbles and leaves the open journal on the bed for me.
“What was your question?” she asks.
“Ma’m, did you all request the steel or composite Multi-Cell Pressure Filtration System?”



© 1993-2024 by Stephen M. James.