Lines Composed 750 Miles West of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Hearing of President Trump’s Scripted Plea for Unity Drowned Out by the Raucous Crowd Chanting ‘Lock Her Up!’ October 26, 2018


— with nods to, and a last line from, Wordsworth’s “Tinturn Abbey”

I’m watching smoke wander upward
through its pyramid of black briquettes,
hover like a parched fountain slowly
stirred in circles amidst sluggish air,
then search for currents to usher it
past shadow into sky. Such languid flight
belies the damage that makes the meal,
the ravaged meat gracing kitchen table,
the surgery that shreds it down to gristle.

Mean indulgence, this living. Mean, I say,
yet still will savor the meal’s completion
then linger after outside until a
secret light bleaches our little forest
midnight white, splashing and gowning
the margins and walling in the yard.

When the vase of coals now pulsing red
collapses to extrude its flapping tongues
and discharge sparks like red rain, I look
up, anticipating what must come next.
But inside, already lamp-lit, through
windows focused like tall rectangular
spectacles on a quiet task, I see
my wife in her chair, reading (the gray cat
curled against her legs on the recliner’s
upraised stool), unaware her care-less-ness
propels a bolt of pleasure to my brain.

Even Wordsworth revisiting pastoral
cottages following five years of worldly
weariness couldn’t voice such contentment
or link me more interminably to
his ‘life and food for future years.’ Doom
be damned, the forces fencing this stolen
moment shine it forward, sure, but also
illuminate the numinous now that’s
felt in the blood, and felt along the heart.


—first published in Galway Review


Poem by D.R. James.

D. R. James’s latest of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.