The Poetry Project

Three Pieces

Rachel James

Be strong a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, o, p. Things have just begun, go easy. Caress your own selves pay no heed to the others, with their fabulous push carts filled with grade A fish and drink, with their tall hair and freshly washed feet. Torment not! The grace lingering on the church roof is just the sun. The church has done nothing but stood in place to reflect the colors of the glorious dusk.

Be strong Arctic cold. Suddenly you hear that you weren’t hearing like a fan goes off in a quiet room. I listen to the space around you not your voice I focus on your presence beside me, the heat, and you don’t ask “Are there words?” Three sharks freeze and wash up dead on a Cape Cod shore. Outside a siren rings like a child not getting what it wants.

Be strong partner. A tuna jumps in a current mood. I may stretch my neck to kiss you, arch my back to kiss your crotch with my ass, spoon. I may sweep the floor, water the plants, mop the kitchen tile, bounce on your thumb. But one day I am going to get super glue and put it in your shoes pull bits of your hair and weave them into half dead fish and slide this yarn through your teeth and hammer a glass into tiny pieces and sprinkle the shards into your open eyes.

Be strong Rachel. Dragging the wooden cart like a donkey down the uneven streets is good exercise even if your boss doesn’t pay you what’s fair and there’s no one to seek out for justice or revenge. Strength carries the precious load to the edges of the well trodden road and into the softer less trodden road making the wheels of the cart sink and get stuck. Be donkey-ish and grey, able to open those large ears and imagine the kinds of lives you hear even if you are not invited to enter those buildings. Find a family to usher you into a stable of soft though itchy straw and a roof that provides shade but no adequate rain cover. Get wet Rachel and dance in the mud of these strangers for they are taking pleasure now in the squealing children fighting sleep, bellies full, just beyond the golden light of the farmhouse windows.


You tired of riding the bus? Tired of trying? Tired of wanting things? Tired of having your feelings hurt? No?! You make orange seem like a great color. I always thought it was the worst one.

So Shadow,

Today’s another sleep on the couch sweat on the couch watch hentai on the couch turn the lights off. Little boy between two breasts perambulating. Everything drawn. Fuzzed out penis inside textured cavern cum prompts big jizz strangers drawing in a room collaborate on a sandwich pumping. Then monsters tentacle.

Conceived in a cartoon dream pussy emitting vapor. I’m born. The girls look pained the boys look drained. I sit alone think alone touch alone rest alone no other to mother.

Volcanoes erupt on the ocean floor and the Ring of Fire. Remember learning about Pompeii noting the poor dentistry. 500 of the 1,500 active v’s have already erupted.

Rim the pacific,

First time dirty talk request came in I never heard one didn’t know what to say so laughed it. He fingered my 16-year-old ass and I felt instant regret my ass hadn’t been fingered for the past three years. Ever since then my ass was like a wiggling pastry under my school skirt. I thought: it must take another person to show me things I already got.

Forget everything and form a hollow replica of something once known,

I don’t feel like eating oranges or kissing anyone
I don’t want any food or drink in the fridge or to have a fridge
I don’t want children or dogs or birds in cages dying
I don’t want the roads to lead to other roads
I don’t want relatives to look at me while making an obvious expression
or anyone having expressions in general
I don’t want a nickname or any name I don’t want anyone to be remembered

Recovering from internet poison,

Friday the 13th rolls in relaxed. J’s fingers smell like sour milk and hot udders. Father warbling in the park dreidel walking like does every individual matter or just some because if it’s just some it’s none so it’s either all or none. Papaya King has a scene Friday night a couple crying at the table two beefs waiting I guess they didn’t order a dog. I walk down 6th like it’s a graveyard of phone calls I used to make.

Lord go ho hi bring a vibe,

Grease me a pan I can fry in
Turn me up
and wait

DD, apologies in advance.

I’m dreary reading texts from childhood. Mostly “man’s search for meaning” and the Book of Changes. Joseph Campbell, A. R. Orage – he wrote psychological exercises I did as a child like: fall asleep recounting every moment of the day from beginning to end without analysis. Or read from right to left these lines:


I think Moses was lead by the lord to the summit to survey land promised to his ancestors. I don’t know about biblical stories but this sounds contemporary. Yesterday I spent three hours procrastinating on Trulia thinking, “Lord, do I have any relatives with money I don’t know about?” You probably know the summit of Pisgah because of your christian cheerleading past. You’ve been on the top of a pyramid.

Start Again DD. That’s the name of the persona you had the first day we met. Turning me like wood into a spoon or table leg. A thing that holds other things in it or up. You told harrowing tales about your teenage years and everyone at the table was impressed. Then you sang – that seemed natural you were good at spontaneously creating scenarios to perform in – and your singing voice was so different from your talking voice I felt embarrassed and wanted to leave. The next morning I watched you from the upstairs window. You were lying on the grass in the sun reading, touching your hair (remember how long it was?). Your hair looked flat ironed and shiny even though I saw you at breakfast with casual wet hair just moments before. J was watching me watch you, painfully. And yet I could not stop. How to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? I tremble along now, remembering your lounge singer act and my mousy on the farm act and that, despite these, we came to sleep in the same bed.

Myth, Dreams, Religion, etc… A VHS tape of Robert Bly leading a men’s drumming circle and storytelling the men into healing was on repeat in our house 1986 to ‘95. Bly sat on a stage playing a lap drum talking about the pains of being a man in society what can be done about it. He was a good storyteller. He talked about longing to stay in the garden. What garden? I thought. You ran away at 16. I see you rolling your eyes that’s why I mentioned Bly to get your eyes moving under your buttery lids.

How to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

I don’t know, DD. The body can be burned high on a scaffold of brightly colored fabrics and gold ornaments. On the stages of my youth white new-agers hung tapestries of Other-place weavings grasping for a web to be held in. In my dreams I embroider a tapestry beneath the floor of our house. Food for termites and rats, the tapestry depicts a lurid scene of ancient depochery within which a hyacinth quietly wilts. DD,

When I was a teacher the only rule was to sit together at the table everything is in proximity to something else everything scoops me up and rides me. And then we start again, and it’s just like that. Practicing in my head for the big break. DD,

Make me a pile of sheets I can lie on, wake up in, and wear. Dress for morning and evening and night. Never cut, just wrap. Like young boys we grasp hold try to make something hard that isn’t ourselves.

I once gave a child a scenario: you are on a ship coming from Russia and after two weeks of difficult travel you hear people running from steerage up to the open air deck. You follow them! Finally the ship has reached america. What is the first thing you see?
“The statue of liberty!”
What do you think america is going to be like?
“A city of only statues!”

We’re older now. We’re out of the forest, inspecting each other’s eyes lips neck chest stomach pelvis. I’ve gotten epistolary without reason or compass and I’m completely lost. I never think to call you because although you are the smartest woman I know you are also the most self involved and it’s awkward when I feel desire and disgust at the same time making me act like I’m confused around you which I am not. DD,

I wrote you a long letter once and never gave it to you basically words felt impossibly ungenerous. You were like a rocket made of a flat warm stone I was lying across miraculously heading upward. DD,

Let’s only do things in the evening into night I never want to see you when the sun is out. Daytimes I’m busy now, working on bird feeders and reading the comments on pages like How to Build a Flexi-perch Squirrel-proof Birdfeeder for $10 or Less because it’s there I find a group of very supportive men, not unlike Bly’s VHS but focused more on ornithology and not the traumas of feminism. “Bruce, I love the PVC design! One alteration I made was using three inch heavy duty zip ties instead of the clear ones, as they are UV resistant. I’ll post pictures as soon as I can. Thanks for the instructable!” – Cowhead12

When I was a teacher the only rule was to sit together at the table. Everything is in proximity to something else. M and I went dancing like mimes, trying to make each other laugh. I’m actually a comedic dancer though you’ve never seen that side of me. I was desperate to have sex with you and thought, at the time, that comedic dancing wouldn’t impress you. Now I’ve changed my mind.

And then we start again, and it’s just like that. DD.

Issue 14