Poetry from James Thurgood

hoarder
 
she doesn’t get it,
this noxious undergrowth
of plastic bags and containers
boxes, guitar strings, magazines
bottles, business cards
beneath sinks, in closets, drawers
 
but all the hands
careful and careless
as those of inconstant lovers
that touched these things
 
and my plan to master a craft
needing endless bags, et cetera
 
while there is despair to them
as if they know
they’ll never be unearthed
to second life in antique stores
or museums
 
and my sense each yielding
of thing as of person  
prepares that parting at which
you can’t hold anything
or anyone
 
 
 
vagrant
 
raining to beat hell -
under garage eaves
on the light over the door
it huddles
 
not quite the picture
in the bird-book:  too plump
with feathers puffed up somehow 
 - for warmth maybe, a thousand miles
from the tropics
on a perch out of the rain
 
crouching though, head down
he is spied:  a large magpie,
plumed natty as the rest,
swoops down and scares him off -
struts and stares on the light
then back to his perch high in the trees
 
magpies have their case:  they were here first
and you let in one, next it’s a hundred
 
still, you can tell he enjoyed that
 

vagrant:  a stray bird far from its normal ecological range
 
last night’s storm
 
left crab-apple and cherry petals
spattered over the patio
like confetti around church-steps
Sunday morning
 
I’d never seen a wedding
just flowery cars honking
and those festive full-stops
littered, damp with dew or rain
on concrete and earth
 
the peonies hang their heads
 
                      at a puddle’s edge
a lilac scrag dries in the sun
like some dead thing
     on the shore
 
 
 
honour 
 
in memoriam S. L.
 
 
 
you eyed each grab and punch
till I tasted your brother’s fist,
blood and damp earth -
when you stepped in, grim
as your school-play MacDuff:
never hit a man when he’s down
 
soon your family moved -
a hundred miles and two years
out of mind, when the paper said
you’d been hitch-hiking home,
the body found in Burwell Harbour
 
time enough, two years
to join the heroes
in a child’s ever-after
 

 
unemployed
 
 
 
 
                       this white-haired editor
                           at Dominion House as agreed
               too polite to see I’m angling for
                       the ghost of a long-gone job
               - though he allows these kids are good
                                 with their journalism degrees
 
                         travel pieces he says they sell
 
                               I don’t travel much I say
 
                                     he draws back
                               wide-eyed - you don’t have to
                          GO anywhere
 
                                       we swap beers
                               swill stories
 
                               then maybe I should stay
                           meet the philosophical welder
                               the dour professor
 
                           drink and talk go down easy -
                                 I’m asked back for next Friday
                                                                  and the next
                                                  - before last call
                                      promises are warm
                            possibility forever
                                      
                   but in the bus-stop air
                        fall’s first nip - truth is
                                I’m out ten-fifteen bucks
                           for my rounds – a small price
                                  for friendship
                                                        but too much
 
                                                last bus gone
                                 I button my jacket
                             turn up my collar
                                                       start walking
 
 

Biographical Statement

James Thurgood was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and now lives in Calgary, Alberta.  He has been a labourer, musician, and teacher – not necessarily in that order. His poems have appeared in various journals, anthologies, and in a collection (Icemen/Stoneghosts, Penumbra Press).  He is also the author of His Own Misfortune, a work-in-progress. (James A. Thurgood’s Word Salad)

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