Poetry from James Diaz

Sleep as if You are Secretly Loved
O ordinary star
how far have you dropped
toward sleeping things
and no one noticed
the rage in you
until it was burning in their back yard
are you keeping score, wooden
and woke / the upstairs
a mess
your mind won’t free you
say a thing is only a thing
and that it has not yet killed you
oh, but it will
the rooms’ softest light  —
kindling
how a hundred years
will change
only the fact
that you are no longer here
among the living
and everything
every single goddamn thing
still hurting
still peeling the meta from your ordinary glowing
that we only
had more time
to know
what the hell it is we’re doing
here
on the dark floor  —
unkind, dangerous
you say the universe 
is withheld love
I say she is a killer
and we move in her
like dust
from untouched drawers
followed / hunted
clear cut, no evidence
no kindness,
what word would even do here?

She Say’s; It’s Always Worse Than That
It isn’t a good price, that you pay for writing a poem.
-Alice Notley

I opened in my wounded place

at the grace line
of Sioux Falls
and everlasting
breakable / tabletops
coffee spoon, sugar bowl,
rose petal
from the waitresses apron

fallen to the ground

after the lights went down
slowly moving between
parked cars and the moon
I though to myself dying really must just be this one moment
played over and over again
no closure – no point to the story
just fallen things from pockets
and hearts breaking
their silence open
in the dark
none of us catch the light
in the well of our shadow
only sleeping shoulder to shoulder
scar line / heavy breathing
maker, make me whole again, from scratch
…paper and clay kissed goodness
if only we could
climb the hell out of that mountain
of all these things we’ve left
…undone
no story ever worth reading
had a point
just this silent sadness
like moss growing in our lungs
the distance between one small
town and the next
rose petals and their owners
lost and longing.
Dark Spots

only place me somewhere safe

map’s edge of night
tore me center heart
and hazy, call that drunk-love
but not like I know the name of this town
or him or her
and what this all really means
is that I’m broken
and I don’t know where
how do you repair the torn bit of road
when the whole highway’s missing
I’m like this desert-body
the buzzards are circling
afraid to drop
but more afraid not to
only let me go quietly
when the song ends
I’ve a lot of road ahead
and so few hours left
to walk it.
The Deep End
falls every so often
like this tree in the road
my head’s lowest position
is always towards the heart
and late at night while we talk
quietly about our lives
somewhere half way
across the world
other tender things are dying
a boy on the 10:00 news walks into traffic
they’ll never know why
he didn’t just tell someone
they’ll never know what his laughter
would have sounded like
had he reached 18
I pull the blankets over my head
because I think I might know why
oh, but I remember my laugh-lines
at that threshold
I refuse
every time
to cross over
Poem for Darkness
I rest my ragged frame
alongside the scars of your hand
I count the blessing and the damage
pocket each one
in the same fractured place
I let that be enough
and even when it isn’t
I pray that in some other life
it is

The Only Poem Left to Write

 

 

you listened

for the changing


for what might

save you


how the wind picked up leaves

and threw them beyond your vision


and you can’t recall if you were ever really born

into anyone’s hands

or just suddenly here

like all these stray weeds

kin of your skin

and the night’s mercurial madness

stripping layers called fatherland

and broken bones of hatelove,

mercy- please,

it’s been the longest night-

the longest life


I can’t fight

me anymore

I’m so tired

and it shows


every place I’ve been


my words choke halfway up the hill

of surrender and I’m sorry


take these as gifts

too heavy to carry


they are my flawed biology, my history-

but I leave them to you


as broken as the edge of transformation is

something in the cracked parts of us remains untouched


the slight curve up is all that really matters


and how tightly we’ve held on all these years

that’s the only poem we know how to write.

When You Forget To Breathe 

you know

as well as I do
when something breaks
it is always breaking
there’s no commemorating the hole
only the digging
every wound flush
with the feel of the blade
how it kissed into you
something almost permanent
but even this will not last
you must have faith for the next catastrophe
how it will come any night
how it has come every night
like the face of someone you love
the tear in you is wider
and each time you forget
how little skin is left
I wrote this other word
for broken and it came up
out of my wound like a rush
of air I had borrowed
and now, taken back-
it belonged incompletely to night
to the digging and the never ending bend of body
like a light at the end of the hall
you can only really see its beauty
when you’re not standing in it.
Cross-eyed Valentine 

where, love-

how long did you hide
there under the shadow
of the phantom stair- legs up
lest darkness take the best parts of you first
feet for wandering / wading into mirrors
back to the drawing boards
of half empty rooms
curtains drawn and light
scarring beneath your eyelids
little permanent remainders
they say the heart pumps blood
through a 60,000 mile long stretch of vessels
you think about how nothing could carry you
like that over the waters of your own life
let alone a body, poor vassal
you owe these minutes
to god knows who
you think of your heart as a highway
a Hank Williams song
a flutter of stone bird mana
winter is just a thing that happens
there are no opening of doors
onto warm light
smiling faces
welcome / home
the night stretches out like deformed vertebrae
little hillock of bone
knotty edged passover
a thieving thing
that’s what love is
a hold up on a cold Chicago street corner
wind in your hair
small ungraceful wounds
they add up
you are adding that damage up
you know the weight of each additional number
you pull back against the word
that wants to scratch
everything that burns
right out of you
the burn is the best part of you.
 
Bio:  James Diaz is a writer and editor living in upstate New York. He is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger and the founder of Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in Occulum, Philosophical Idiot, and Midnight Lane Boutique. He occasionally tweets @diaz_james and wrestles with his thoughts at jamesdiazsite.wordpress.com/