The Frog’s Voices
I listen to the voices of night frogs croaking,
in the late hours of the night, and try to
understand the meaning of their messages
echoing off the silver moon:
Their hoarse voices curl through my sleepy,
mind, sewing strange thoughts from long-
forgotten memories, in my mind. In the midst
of their croaking, they speak to me
in their language of sorrow.
During the fading hours of the night, I search
for metaphors to translate the
meaning of the frog’s melancholy
mutterings as their voices continue
to burst into the mysterious emptiness
of the moonlit night, but all I end up with are
When I Am Old
When I can no longer see
stars crawl lazily though
the vastness of sky
on silver moonbeams,
or the beauty of verdant trees
in secret hollow glens,
and my weary bones
and ashen hair
tell me I am no longer young
and it is useless to
believe in magic anymore
or see elves and sprites
dancing in meadows fallow,
I will feel sorrow’s weight
upon my shoulders.
Long Lost Memories
Amidst the cold, brisk gales
On an abandoned winter night,
Suddenly burst forth
Inside the billowing steam, spewing
From an ancient iron horse
As it disappeared into the
Unforgiving gap of dark fears
Riding on rusted iron rails,
And I wept in sorrow.
Memories of Grief Were Forgotten
Emerging in the hours of an iron-colored metallic
night, rusting symbols covered with an aging patina
of dark contractions whispered across an old man’s
ebbing life, causing him anguish.
Crystal poems written in scarlet ink were shattered
by metaphorical hammers pounding words of grief
into gloomy synonyms and causing dark allegories
to ache inside the cold dreariness of his aging mind.
Images of broken tombstones in a field of unknown
graves entered his consciousness and his trail of
tears melted into the cemetery’s soil, damping it
with more sorrow than it could hold.
He sensed dark, once-forgotten memories being
awakened, but as sharp pangs of grief started
piercing his collapsing mind, the tainted memories in
the blink of Meng Po’s eye were forgotten, and
What Are Those Strange Images, Which I Think I See?
Is it helplessness
Suspended in rust-coated visions,
The hallucinatory echo of
An old broken tenor saxophone,
An antediluvian sea where
Dead things scream at midnight,
A place where abandoned women
Cut their hair with broken glass shears
While they painfully paint crimson roses,
On their bedroom walls?
Is it a shattered, rusted nightmare that
Tastes metallic like rusted blood,
Desires twisting like toxic tendrils
inside poisonous mushrooms,
A white psychedelic pill that
Confuses similes with syntax,
Or a dark poem about death inside
A nightmare that haunts a poet’s mind?
Is it a melancholy song sung by
A bone-thin chanteuse in a shadowy bar,
A decaying memory corroding
Atop a broken cement tombstone, or
perhaps a cemetery where ghosts devour reality, and
whose skeletal hands scrape at your bones?
James, a retired Professor and octogenarian is a Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee and has had five poetry books The Silent Pond, (2012), Ancient Rhythms, (2014), LIGHT, (2016), Solace Between the Lines, (2019), and Serenity (2022), 1770 poems, five novels, and thirty-five short stories published in scores of national and international magazines, anthologies, and books. He earned his doctorate from BYU, and his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO. He lives in Santa Ynez, California, with his wife Sandy, and a dog named Scout. His great, great aunt and uncle, Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, and John James Piatt were prolific poets in the 1800s.
You can find more of James’ work here on Ink Pantry.