Somewhere off the coast of our own
defeated world I approach
the mangroves, blooming. The wings
of a hummingbird
repeatedly buzzing. An orgy of rosebuds
shedding their dew. Tonight, another
in a room with broken light. Your brother, he lets me
turn on the night. Lets the dark fall over my eyes
so when I close them it’s booming. The hum of something
being torn apart.
The sound the sky makes.
I taste the soldering iron, a .45 nestled
safely on my tongue. It stinks
of seared skin. A cheek’s inside
smoking. If tonight
I die whistling, if I leave you
singing through my teeth, will you
remember me fondly? Will you scatter me freely
on a mound of frozen dirt?
Already the flies are swarming.
Already the sun shines
blankly on your chest.
It is almost too bright now, this room.
What’s left of the forest closes
swiftly around us
and I’m learning the halls
of my family’s smoldered home.
John James is the author of Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Award. His work appears or is forthcoming in Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Best New Poets 2013, and elsewhere. He lives in Washington, DC, where he serves as Graduate Associate to the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.