Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Two Poems from James H. Duncan


much less

her cigarette wilts as embers tell her all kinds of horror

judgments fall like rain against the windowpane of
the folding café, almost all booths empty, the coffee
getting cold, the cook gone home, the last waitress
slips her the bill, incorrect but cheap, like so many things

her stool turns as she stands, grinding with age, and she
lays down loose change to frame the bill, a small comfort
somehow, and there are bells on the door, dull and dying

failures flame up in her heart like the lighter’s flick
igniting another black lung sky, birdless in the rain

she’d give anything to see a crow, much less a robin
much less a taxi, much less a man not eager to slit
her throat or slit her skirt or slit her history open for
his easy examination, much less a man, much less

the lamppost light glows a stage spotlight for her
as the rain pelts the cigarette stem, killing it out

her cigarette wilts as the wet embers drop down to
the cracks on the sidewalk, telling her all kinds of horror
a car comes, passes, and she crosses the street, alone
she finds her hotel, alone, and climbs to her room
—another broken elevator night closing in

opening her purse, she sees an empty box, a few flakes
of tobacco dancing in the bottom, a lighter feigning sleep

she picks up the phone, waits for the front desk

“I want an outside line, a connection to Milwaukee.”

she closes her eyes and waits for the tone, much less a voice

(This poem appeared in James H. Duncan's chapbook Desolation 2 A.M.)

Isle of Man

women are a breed never
carved away or
or fully opaque, never

scattered through the glass of ice water
hide air pockets and silhouettes slipping and melting
and in the divergent shapes I sense
her ancient grace and
idle eyes so similar

Woman: noun – 1) the female being, 2) a stone
cold mix of wondrous beauty and carbon, 3) mystery
and madness
beyond any animal understanding,
4) waking from a nightmare, 5) the furthest
lighthouse from the shore

there is only one way to view them
their flame
their rapid magic trick
with eyes closed and murmured prayers
honest, honest misgivings

the waitress returns with another
glass of ice water

and outside in the momentary flick
of lighthouse whiteness
the sober waves roll by in the night
and she’s out there, out there

A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure. James H Duncan is a freelance writer living in New York City, and is the founder of Hobo Camp Review, an online literary 'zine dedicated to the traveling word. A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee, his poetry and short stories have found homes in dozens of
publications, including Pulp Modern, Apt, Red Fez, Haggard & Halloo, Plainsongs, Unshod Quills, Underground Voices, and Poetry Salzberg Review. More at