The Jim Archives
The Comeback (A Year to Forget)
...documents a return to action after another dry spell, this one lasting through just about all of college freshman year.

By the Violets

Sat serenely
in the sunshine
in the tall grass
by the violets

She remembered
how she whispered
how she wished for
love unceasing

Took a daisy
in her fingers
plucking petals
in a daydream

Looked for portents
by the violets
(tell my fortune
be a prophet

Be a crystal
that sees clearly
bring a promise
that he loves me

Speak of passion
sing of romance
great adventures
that await us)

So it answered
her petition
its last petal
vexed her longing

She rose sadly
dropped the daisy
tossed a daydream
down the sewer

Walked in silence
toward the sunset
making faces
(stupid flower)

(May 1988)

Animal Husbandry, Chex Party Mix, and Cleveland, Ohio

Night comes in
like some cool river—
how can there be,
be another day?

Take my hand,
o real companion,
and we'll dance,
dance till we fade away.

—Richard Thompson

"You know what would be scary?" she would ask.
"No," I would say.
"Flying porcupines."

She had a voice like a buzzsaw in a vat of molasses. Things got messy, but it was always fun licking everything clean afterwards. I remember it like it was a week ago Thursday.

I would see her by the apple carts on my lunch hour. She would always have something unfathomable to say to me. That devilish grin would spread across her face, and she'd say, "Life is like an old B-Western—both have horses." Those were the days.

But the real thing was in her eyes. Somewhere back there was truth or consequences. She was myopic, though. I could never tell if she was looking at me or at the tropical fish in the aquarium against the wall behind me. I should have asked, I guess.

"Tell me," she would say, "Where does time go after we're done with it? Cleveland?" I would hesitatingly agree.

(October 1988)

Sidereal Time

Listen to the silence.
Can you feel the silence?

—Van Morrison

Meaningful silences
are like flying porcupines.
You get the feeling they probably don't exist,
but to get hit by one would really be something.

(I don't quite know
just who it is you remind me of,
but I have the suspicion
that I was once very fond of her.

We'll go off and gaze at the stars.
Lovers are supposed to do stuff like that,
aren't they?)

I could do with a few more meaningful silences these days.

(October 1988)

Meditation on a Starry Night

Shelter me this night
in the azure folds of crinoline
that flow gently to the floor
and sweep the dust across the linoleum
as you drift through the room.

Night is always interesting
(and this night like no other
if you are come
to change the world,
change the night,
and all the dreams to follow).
By this I mean that there are certainties involved.

Certainty Number One:
it's good to wish upon stars.
when you wish upon a star—
your dreams don't come true,
but the night does go by
just a little bit quicker.

(December 1988)

Words Without Meaning

part one

There is a clamor
Somewhere close by, I think
(therefore I am).
I can hear it
with a startling degree of clarity.
Somewhere (over the rainbow, bluebirds fly)
not so very far from here.

Birds fly over the rainbow—
it's probably them making all that racket.


part two

Your accusation is:
these are words without meaning.
My reply is:
perhaps you are correct.


part three

for perhaps there will be something here
that you may find warmly amusing,
or unexpectedly disquieting,
or delightfully frivolous,
or truly enlightening,
or deeply endearing or deeply enduring,
or both,

or abidingly tender,
or refreshingly rugged,
or engagingly good-natured,
or purposefully serious,
or wonderfully succinct,
or gloriously expansive.

Or just plain dumb.
That counts, too.

(December 1988)

Arthur Murray's Revenge

[Brought once again into this place,
some things become obvious and inescapable.
It gets harder and harder to ignore
the implications of living as one bracketed.]

One look at you
and life becomes all pirouettes and jetés.
So beautiful
and so seemingly effortless.

[Come closer.
I'm not sure what you're doing here,
believe me,
I don't mind your presence in the least.
Stay awhile,
and I'll make you a nice pair of brackets
just like mine.]

It's silly.
You're here,
but there's just something incredibly wrong.
I mean, Ginger Rogers
just doesn't belong in a Woody Allen picture.
Are you sure you're on the right set?

[What's that?
You don't want me to make you any brackets?
Well, gee.
What can I give you if you don't want brackets?]

You know something?
You make me want to believe in happy endings.
Fairybooks and storytales.
I must be losing my mind.

[How about some music?
Wanna hear a record?'s one...
"Save the Last Dance for Me."
You like the Drifters?]

No, I think you really must be mistaken.
There's probably people waiting for you somewhere,
and worried sick 'cause you're late.
Aren't there?

[Another record? No? about if you just sit there
and watch me babble?
That ought to be fun.]

What? Leaving so soon?
Something I said?

And here I am,
almost ready to just shut up and accept things.
Not even a chance to say
that I'd be more than willing
to scatter a whole stupid lifetime's worth of brackets
and broken dance metaphors
if you'd teach me how to waltz.

(March 1989)

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