Two Poems by Mike James


My wife tells me, her story is not my story. Then she tells me,
Everyone has the same story. Again and again, she’s right.

I keep asking who I am. Wannabe teacher. Failed rodeo rider.
Twice suppressed drag queen. My broken Magic Eight Ball won’t answer.

Most days start without making a wish. I’ve only got so many in my wish jar.
So I’m cautious. Keep them at my bedside. Treasure them like half-dollars.

Whenever I earn money, it’s already spent! That’s why my wish jar is so
Important. For “bucket list” items, lottery tickets, and discontinued love notes.

Don’t laugh, but my favorite way to go is up. That’s practice for heaven.
If I go backwards, down too far, I only find the empty shell that’s my heart.


On Loss

Things go away. Your mother told you that, first. Then your wife. Your mother meant headaches, allergies…small nuisances. Your wife meant people. Only people. The door marked Exit exists only for people to walk through.

A friend’s long hair always made you think of a field in Africa, a place you never visited. The coupling never made sense, but never stopped happening. Some nights you  crouched in the tall grass. Other nights you ran and ran.   

Mike James lives and works in Chapel Hill, NC. Recent poems have appeared in Trailer Park Quarterly, Laurel Poetry Review, and Third Wednesday. His eleventh poetry collection, Crows in the Jukebox, was recently published by Bottom Dog Press. He’s served as the associate editor for the Kentucky Review and as the associate editor for Autumn House Press.