the café nearly empty—
scent of burnt brew
our shared morning.
and you turned me on,
talking of Verlaine’s
passion for Rimbaud,
stirring your drink.
“with a bullet,” you said,
“he made it apparent.”
we walked to the library,
but no French poetry.
sitting and quietly
staring into nearly
an idea struck,
became a rat
chewing at my throat.
a bullet I held back,
so as not to be obvious.
We recall all of our former lovers, baffled
By the histories that brought us to this
Bed, out of the rain, and into each other’s
Arms. Other parts swam separate and
We noted their travels with smiles and
Teeth and wet bites where the ropes
Are just beginning to fasten down. We
Test each other’s readiness for such grip
With delicate nodding of heads till our
Rib cages touch and push everything close.
Our skin is too hot to hold, and the white
Noise of our commingling breaths begin to
Drown out the hum of this April rain, and
We simply cease to notice that it’s morning.
No quarter was given.
So, please, hold still.
Of all parents, you were a blast, a lot of fun.
What if we had known then
what we clearly know now?
Our performance, so poor,
might have still traveled too far.
Black Belt Magazine, Martial Art, Budo International
Once in a while, before the Apple Festival,
I’ll pull one or two issues out
and dog-ear the techniques worth remembering, cause
I hate my pressure points.
You know all their tender places.
Elegy for a Moth
I one day caught a star in the night’s sky.
with a crooked finger I pulled it through the clouds it called home
only to use it as light for my writing.
on the desk a moth landed on my new star
left a light dusting of itself on the star’s skin, giving off smoke.
I knocked over a cup of pencils and pens to swipe at it
the smell of the moth’s legs kindling on the star
turned my stomach every which way. my heart sat bone-caged above
worse for the wear, I’m afraid, rabbiting about
my star bitterly melted the cap of a spilled pen, and I
watched the moth burn in the molten plastic as it pooled around.
I returned the star to its home in the clouds. I wrote by the light of this burning moth
I used the pen it died in. I wrote of the star it died for.
its short life smothered, and all for the glow of a stolen star.
In the smoke of morning, she takes
off the sun’s clothes for me,
holds them up by two fingers,
before letting them fall upon
Like the saddest animal,
I burrow in the warmth
of what’s balled up and left behind.
With grey in my beard,
I claw some prayers
in the stone cave of our night sky.
From the floor, I pray
for a good hunt, a sigh felt through the ages,
and for an archeologist
to one day read my scratches
The shearwater turned its head to my green tank—
and I, frozen on my driveway, let it look and sing
then forgave it amid the thrum of Makakilo,
meaning “observing eyes,” which I had
From time to time, off the nose of my skateboard,
seen the girl across the street who never shaved
her arms or legs, never kissed me with passion,
as I remember it, but I was only seven after all.
I was so swollen; it was 1988. And brah, the shearwater’s
gaze gave me much to ponder over, even then. Haole
boy and her—Melissa (I think)—just across the street with
no hands, so humpbacks splash sad in Mamala Bay, like all of us.
James Blevins is an award-winning poet who studied English and Creative Writing at the College of Central Florida. His first published short story, “For All the Bending,” was included in the 2016 Scythe Prize collection. His poetry has been published or has been accepted to be published in Pretty Owl Poetry, Alexandria Quarterly, Literary Juice, AZURE, Two Hawks Quarterly, and THAT Literary Review.