Right Before Whatever the Next Thing Is Kicks In |
by D.R. James

This minute—
exactly three months past
the thirtieth anniversary of half
my life ago (which was when my
number one son hit his first
one-third year and I was driving

a yellow piece of tin-can shit
across which Iowa dust
would rush to coat
the virgin-vinyl console, its
vapid-plastic captain’s chairs)

—yes, this very minute, I feel like
when a combine, which I wouldn’t know
from a baling harrowing windrower,
pulls out up ahead a-piece,

slows you to a bug-in-late-autumn crawl
(only it’s July and hot as Dante,
the AC ancient and on hiatus)
for the quarter mile it takes
before nosing back across the ditch
and switching on its whirl
of slashing dervishes;
                                    i.e., it’s like I’m

slo-mo-ing amidst simmering oceans
of dangerous corn, sloughing off
all the duff of go-west romance
for the Prairies and Plains, for fondness
of Indian-war heroics stored away
since fourth grade, thanks
to my favorite, Mrs. Martin,
before she died and left me
sad and still a nonreader.
                                          And this

is what I remember? Not much
to reassert a life upon that
doesn’t mimic what I didn’t know
I didn’t want.
                      Or is it?

D.R. James's poems have appeared in various magazines and three chapbooks (from Finishing Line and Pudding House), and his first full-length collection, Since Everything Is All I’ve Got, was released by March Street Press in 2011. He lives in Holland, Michigan, where he has been teaching writing and literature at Hope College for 25 years.