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2 Poems by James King


I learn the language; more accurately its cadence, its shape, as it resounds off the peaks and valleys of something sounding like Latin.

The Confiteor Deo is a wispy mist over a quiet river at dawn until a v of geese flies in low and lifts the voice, rising sharp and clear— mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa— before mumbling down, a tail feather caught in the fingers of a vine slowly strangling a tree.

I am on bells. My hand readies for the orb to reach its zenith. I strain to hear the words. Success depends entirely on my timing. Sanctus. There we go. Sanctus. Again, with feeling. Sanctus. Give it all ya got.

I lower the Cerberus-style bells ever so slowly, ever so carefully. The hush that follows fills me with the fourth-grade uncertainty that the echo off the sanctuary ceiling and the ascending gold-plated chalice and the bloody nails and feet that hover above could ever be enough to save me.

You Poem

This is my attempt to write a poem focused entirely on you, not me, a you poem, you might call it, but I can’t write a you poem because, well, you.

I tried a you poem about the day we met as we moved in circles, but what I described was the hopeful twinge I felt with that slight turn of your head as you passed

and that shy-ish smile you tossed back my way. I tried a you poem about the night you deftly, unexpectedly, slid your hand through the Straits of Cabernet to run

your fingers across the top of my hand, and the soft and the cool and the smooth woke that twinge again and yet again when I looked and saw that longer, less-shy-ish smile.

I have been reading up on the Buddha. I am guessing he’d say a you poem is an illusion, that the you and the I are one because everyone is one,

not just you and me but the neighbor we’ve never seen smile and the shoppers who leave empty carts in empty parking spaces and optometrists with halitosis

and delivery guys who toss and miss and leave the cardboard boxes on wet grass. I do not buy it. There is only us because how could it be otherwise when

that smile and that caress led to children and then (how did this happen so quickly?) grandchildren and, oh, my God, let’s you and I never die.


James King’s poetry has appeared in The Dillyduon Review, The Thieving Magpie, OpenDoor Poetry Magazine, Oddville Press, Big City Lit, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Crowstep Poetry Journal, and other journals and anthologies. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Bill Warrington’s Last Chance. James is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has an MA in writing from Manhattanville College. He lives in Wilton, Connecticut, USA. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram @jamesking3097. Visit

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