Poetry from James Thurgood

empty gift

last class before Break
a girl took a scrap 
of thick purple paper
trimmed it square,
folded it to a cube,
let fall a teardrop of glue,
snipped a strip of scarlet ribbon
and tied up the tiny box
with a frilly bow

Merry Christmas  she said

near twenty-years
of its fading on my bookshelf, 
I’ve admired the handiwork –
never tempted to open it
of course
because I watched it made
and know there’s nothing inside


                       one end reaches too far from,
the other too near, the eye – a simple fix,
should be – but these shoes were my father’s
and I find he laced them with a trick
no doubt for better holding 
– so I just make one loop too large
          one too small
and rush out the door

slower is faster  he’d say
trying to show what worked
     what lasted
as I pulled away

     till his care couldn’t 
keep me close
and I became a loose end
               out there dangling
tripping up the unwary
and trodden upon in turn


     there he is again
in late moonlight 
this early morning –
was he there all night?

when he first showed up
     plump and smiling,
overturned basket
     a troubadour’s hat, 
stick arms raised,
    coal eyes glowing –
I didn’t have the heart to tell him
     wrong window,
the ice-princess has moved –
and next night there he was

     I let the joke go months too far:
his youth spent,
he’s sunk in on himself,
     a mere grey heap now,
head a twisted skull,
     hat just hanging,
one eye drifted south,
     face a fixed grimace,
          mouth one long cry,
     arms askew
as if he long forgot 
     what they were reaching for 
– oh, to call back the cold season
          that left him behind

hermit crab

     star by star 
          the moon steps back      
tugging away night’s blanket
     wave by wave
     he scuttles safe home
like a seabed bat
     by sunrise	

what does he do all day
     hidden like an answer
in the coiled question
     of his old snailshell –
     sleep and dream?  pray and plan?	
          tend his tender flesh?
while the sun’s giant feet
     tromp the sand
and seagulls wheel and jeer

2 thoughts on “Poetry from James Thurgood

  1. Empty Gift resonated with me. I carried a picture of an old flame in my wallet for forty years wondering what happened to her. I just discovered she passed away a few years back. I wish I had taken your counsel and not opened that gift.
    Thank you for sharing🙏🙏

Comments are closed.