D. R. James

No, Really, Who’s Counting?

Ever since that dream about García Lorca
rhyming nationalistic jingles on Majorca,
I can’t depend on anything. Only cadences
coming at me on my cats' velvet paws or
via the news: nine dim stories followed
by the ten it would take to make an even
hundred, the odd thousand, the 100K Russian
dead in Ukraine and uncountable Yemeni
innocents. But who’s counting? Bark
curls then sheds off the sycamore, its even-
or-odd-year ritual, birch-bark-like scrolls
I shape and stitch into a solo canoe, codes
stuffed into brittle crystal bottles to bob
toward the hinterlands. I’m warning
other worlds of this world’s lost nostalgia,
found neuralgia. I’m wondering out loud
about cures for the triple-digit indignities,
the 400,000 who died in Darfur, from disease,
the XXXK in Ethiopia, from each other,
forever curious about wandering beyond
the out-of-bounds bounty I’ve always
been thankful for. Turns out bombing,
from above, that tried-&-false approach
to peace in our time, like landmines, from
underneath, leaves a little to be desired:
very little, since the current count equals
the last two and the new plan resembles
all the rubber-stamped chapters jammed
into The Big Book of Battles, this Merry
Christmas’s coffee-table best-seller. Luckily
the Dow Jones just closed up for once, though
by only 0.1 of 1%, so perhaps after breakfast
and my grimy handful of pastel pills I’ll tack
some bark back on its camo branches, glue up
a few shards, leave less to write on, more time
to kill, fewer views of the honorable
tittle-tattle, then paddle my ass in search
of all the pain they’re spinning that isn’t there.

About the Author

Recently retired from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, D. R. James lives, writes, bird-watches, and cycles with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared internationally in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals. Find his collections on Amazon.