Teaching Emergency Awareness & Three other new poems by Colin James


The smaller the room the better.
A medium sized cardboard box will do.
Hand the equipment in to me
through a flap pulled down open.
It’s quite roomy, really.
Oxygen tanks in the corner,
examination table center front.
High pressure sodium lights warm us
while recuperating as in being nursed,
vital signs monitored, paper graphs.
I’m no doctor but we have
dealt with this before,
a continuous desire to leave
when confronted by an impasse.
That simple primeval
fear of being alone.


Looking out of the window
I was just sort of daydreaming
thinking of a burning candle
in a plastic egg cup and the fine
layer of soot everywhere it touches.
I couldn’t find the little stereo
I bought in Boston,
then I did so I played some music.
My neighbor paused in the hallway.
Sometimes she sings.
She was carrying a tall plant
almost bigger than her.
She left it on the landing
now I have to walk around it.
Downstairs there is a marble top table
with numerous samples of junk mail,
and some assorted key rings.


My eldest forever
stepping into holes
that aren’t there,
claims to have discovered
a unique conspectus.
He demonstrates for me,
sets up several facing mirrors
until a continuous illusion is created.
“Do something about that!”
I would, but gravity has
compromised my insides
since my recent preoccupation with
their reckless importance.


When there is no one about
we dancers take our lunch outside
on the north side of the studio
sit at a circular oak tree bench.
From here we can observe every possible approach,
even the top of the rail trail
leading down to the painted sea caves.
I often dine on local greens
drink hard water from a paper cup.
I could wander off if a garden maze
were near, lose myself despite familiarity
in the indelible confidence of acclimation.


Colin James has chapbook of poems, A Thoroughness Not Deprived Of Absurdity and a chapbook from Writers Knight Press, Dreams Of The Really Annoying. He was born in the north of England near Wales and now resides in Massachusetts.

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