Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has been nominated for multiple Pushcarts, as well as for the Paterson Poetry Prize. His many poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.) In April, Redhawk published his 20th collection Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021.
“Don’t fret, love, I’ll come out all right.” — Sherwood Anderson
Think of a late summer cornfield we could walk into,
The corn taller than both of us so every step hides us further.
All our suburban lives we’ve talked about a farm,
Never gotten closer than a roadside produce stand.
So let’s just talk now about a cornfield
Far off from towns and rest stops.
The corn can grow and wither in its own time.
Even after an autumn frost, nothing is plowed under.
The field is there for the both of us.
We just keep walking.
For a very long time there was silence
People kept to themselves
Communicated with nods, unscripted gestures
The wind quit doing what the wind does
Even rain fell noiselessly
Then, one Tuesday, before afternoon’s midpoint,
A phonograph began to play in the attic
Of a large, old house everyone thought empty
Townspeople gathered beneath the attic window
The phonograph played an instrumental over and again
Some old women began to speak
At first, their voices all rasps and hollow bird cries
Very quickly they were singing the melody
At every refrain, they added and replaced words