James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Green Hill Literary Lantern, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, Tar River Poetry, and many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.
let’s get down
to the nub here
if Thomas Jefferson
or William Shakespeare
or Martin Luther King
or whatever historical figure
you can come up with
is really “spinning
in his grave…”
down there in the dark
of ancient coffins
all old flesh gone
and nothing but bones
rattling like empty pens
inside a jammed desk draw
he has bigger problems
than whatever little issue
you’re pissed off about
Of all tragedies this is the least.
Yet my poet friend allows them
to corrupt mind and mood,
like dead fish in a pond,
inky blood muddying water.
It takes days to scoop them out, he says,
and go on again with the work.
When I was young, I also
fell into despondency.
So much victory seemed elsewhere.
It took me a lifetime to accept my defeat,
and only then did I see a little success.
Now just sometimes does the stink
stifle me, but still sometimes.
I don’t find it helps to talk about it
or know that others share this fate,
but my poet friend tells me
I should open up about my failures,
since he’d find that encouraging.
I want to invite him to the hole I dug
in my heart, show him
where I bury the bones of hope,
let the burial mound of my failures
be a hill upon which
he could at last look down on me.