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Since 1996 Volume XXI

Jim Daniels

Jim Danielsí latest book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013 and was selected as a Michigan Notable Book. His new book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.



Each sinewy strand of sadness

rolls off his tongue like compressed

bagpipes. When he says love

it sounds like bug or a persistent cough.

Like a bad tooth. I want to say yank on it,

sucker, but he's buying drugs from me.

I know more than he does,

having swallowed more evidence.

Iím not selling happy endings,

just additional chapters in a never-

ending scrapbook of despair.

Though neither of us quite calls it that.


Whatís he love? What I have. The story

never unfolds -- it just uncrumples

from its wadded ball, and even then

it's a cryptic fragment. The manís going to

tune up his lopsided piano and slow dance

with the devilís third wife, or maybe just nod off

into the bittersweet taste of limbo. He doesnít need

directions. Love? Did he really say love?


When he walks away, I briefly

dispute the money already pocketed.

ĎMore where that came fromíómy theme song,

and lazy snow whispering down from the sky

is the chorus. Everythingís negotiable,

even blame. Donít take the worldís hum

for granted, and donít take the Lordís name

with you when it wants to stay put.


If youíve never imagined

yourself here, then your imagination

is just a hot iron pressing out the wrinkles.

Just look at the snow, dude.

Snow, and the tracks.



© Copyright, Jim Daniels.
All Rights Reserved.