Two Poems by D. R. James

Same Old Same Old

Three teen deer have begun of late
to make daily dusk-time stops out back,
their flat flanks and thick, angled necks
depicting stumps and trunks that then
move and materialize and re-blend
as their busy muzzles forage-and-
freeze them across the far lawn. How
ever inventive their camouflage. Though
once I look up, so do they, slightly
white faces and twice-twitching ears
alert to any budge. And if I stand
from the inside sofa’s leather warmth,
even gradually as a yogi, they hop
and spin and crash backward into
slits that open in the brush and oaks
that just as quickly close behind them.
I’m showing you nothing you don’t
know, and know you also know that
doesn’t matter, that you, too, would stop,
lift your face, and love them every time.

When the Water and Sand Dance

When the water and sand dance, whence (whence?)
their music? What is that music? What sense, what
composition surfs itself in? Yes, the water—its
bazillion droplets, the mini-jetsam line it etches.
Yes, the sand—its gazillion granules, the sponging
gauze-and-muslin of them. But what but mind
imagines there’s music? Perhaps the end of your
century also hauled along its ton of sadness
as did mine. And perhaps the years have
finally worn it down to barely nothing of your
day-to-day. The sun and shadows play
again their fetching fine effects. The moon
and birds and even dying leaves relieve
your smallest residue of gloom. But
mind—must it remember anyway? And
is it therefore grateful, more than
happy in that moment, to cue its
private music, then tune your needy
ear to every measure when
the water and the sand dance?

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections is Mobius Trip (Dos Madres Press, 2021), and his prose and poems have appeared in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals. Recently retired from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, James lives with his wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.
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