JAMES P. ROBERTS – 3 POEMS

FLOW POETRY IN HUE, VIETNAM

                                                        for Adam

You speak to your ancestors
lying in shallow graves
mulched over by jungle.

You speak to alligators
and elephants, creatures
life spans longer than yours.

You speak to huddled mothers,
black-eyed babies who utter
never a word or cry.

You speak to bamboo winds,
hollow temples, dynasties fallen
and long forgotten.

You speak to fog-shrouded mountains,
roiling muddy Mekong River,
a black market dog tag.

You speak to rows of mildewed books
in a dozen languages, histories
yearning to be heard.

The raucous birds speak to you:
Go back home or we will use your dreads
to feather our lonely nests.

AND IF PAIN BECOMES A POEM . . .

I am full of poetry.
Poetry screams from every pore of my body.

My right ankle cracks poems so loudly
a microphone twenty feet away picks up the sound.

My left elbow tightens hard enough
I cannot bend it to write a poem without a rough

shake. Electric pings course through my chest,
irregular rhythms, like free verse, thrum inside a fat breast.

(man tits . . . the worst kind of poetic pain!)
Clumsy fingers struggle to write a refrain.

Dimming eyes spill tears, these inky words,
bright flashes of images vanish, go unheard.

Yes, I could continue this medical literary litany
and if pain becomes a true poem, I will die saintly.

COWARDS

I see them on the news.
The scary people.
The scared people.
The people who think of nothing
but themselves.
Who watch as the chaos mounts.
The people who have built
their survival tombs,
stocked with enough food and ammunition
to last as long as necessary . . . until
the last not-one-of-us has fallen
and they can come out again.
These are the cowards.
The true cowards,
for they have the means to change
the situation,
to take charge
and avert the damnation.
But they won’t.
Because they are hollow.
They are too selfish.
They are too scared.
It is their own fear
that will doom them.
They will become nothing
but shadows
wandering
a destroyed land.

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