Four Poems by Wayne James
Dusk on the west rec yard, waiting
on the guard to open the door.
I look past the silent weight machine,
past the fence, the razor wire's dull gleam,
at the sky and the trees they frame.
They are motionless, those trees, perfectly,
and the indigo sky still holds the sun's
pinks and oranges near the southern horizon.
It is the walls, though, that demand my attention.
The walls are made of red bricks formed
by the labor of convict hands some forty years ago.
The bricks lie silent in their rows,
as if, in perpetual formation, marching to eternity,
and I cannot help but wonder about the hands
that molded these red bricks some forty years ago.
Did the hands of those convicts
-- in those days of sanctioned brutality --
bleed as they formed these bricks?
Is that what lends the bricks their color?
Blood from the hands of men who cried and died
within these walls some forty years ago.
On Birds and Razor Wire
As dawn pinks the sky, birds
fly over the prison yard.
Reminders of freedoms lost
wings row the morning air.
Sometimes -- though not often --
they stop to rest atop
the prison fence. There,
they hop through coils
of razor wire --
unharmed by silvered death.
So birds -- fragile creatures --
defeat the blood hungry razor wire
while men -- lacerated without touching --
look on and dream of feathers.
Mired in concrete, I exist,
shadows cross-barring my soul.
Yesterday plagues my dreams with
a heap of images broken on
the shores and shoals of life while
tomorrow tantalizes with siren song.
Yet here I remain, locked within these walls --
impaled on an eternal instant.
"We think of the key each in his own prison. . ."
"Shape without form shade without colour
Paralyzed force gesture without motion. . ."
Under skies churning with anvil clouds,
I arrive on the streets of the nameless city.
The sound of my footfalls echoes off walls
of blood-tempered brick, concrete, and steel,
to blend with the voices storming
around me here in death's other kingdom.
Lightning flashes blue and bright --
thunder rumbles across the dry fields,
dust billows, but the rain never falls.
Nameless City 2
Like a bitter wind blowing down from the north,
the New Faithús cathedrals rise up from the land --
monuments of chain link and razor wire
like multiform stelae spearing the sky.
Acolytes chant paeans to loss, longing, and pain,
while stalks rustling out in the fields
whisper in sibilant voices the names of the dead.
The Katchina danee to the abyss's edge,
but the Shalako don't come on solstice night --
no promise of rain, no end to the blight.
Nameless City 3
The cruel month's sun beats down
on the streets of the nameless city
yet coaxes no life from this desolate land
where I've wasted too many years
keeping the best part of myself buried inside,
yearning to touch, burning to be touched --
trapped between desire and spasm.
No clouds gather, no breezes blow.
The cricket finds no relief, the man
no shelter -- there is no red rock.
Nameless City 4
Again storm clouds blacken the city's skies,
lightning flashes, thunder rolls and shakes.
I run through dark streets, search for my escape.
When I see the way out, I find it lies
in facing the void with unflinching eyes.
In giving color shade, a form to shape,
the motion to gesture, I liberate
creative forces deep inside.
They rise to flow like waters down through the furrows
of my dry fields. Imagination then
nurtures the new life that, beginning to grow,
lifts fresh shoots from rich earth, both bud and stem.
And making meaning from the chaos, so
I set my lands in order once again.
All Poems © Wayne James, all rights reserved
appear here by permission
EDITOR'S NOTE: These works will appear in an anthology of Wayne's fiction and poetry,
schedule for publication in 2000, from Hadrosaur productions. The tentative title is
When Only the Moon Rages.