The River’s Architecture for Louis McKee, d. 11/21/11 The river has a shape you follow with your whole body: shoulder, footstep, and ear- those who know how to listen hear how river wind is like breath, alive in lung and line. Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has published over 20 collections and has served as visiting writer at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. His recent new and selected poems, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His last collection, Back Alley Saints at the Tiki Bar, was published in April by Redhawk. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, TN.
Tattoo She stands like a statue, arm raised, her wrist rests on top of her head as the artist draws with black marker on her naked body. The tree with the dragon will cover her side from breast to hip. A friendly dragon, she had insisted when they looked through the sketches. The needles of the tattoo gun etch art into her flank. She bites her lip. Closes her eyes, thinks it will be beautiful. Heart felt I put the laundry in the dryer and remember the day we strolled through the town after lunch, not ready to say goodbye. The years of absence had fallen away like dust in a breeze. Confidences came easy. We wandered into a store that sold soaps and wooden brushes. A glass jar with felted dryer balls stood on the windowsill. I told you how the dogs had claimed my old one as a toy. You picked a ball with a rainbow heart and bought it for me. I watched your car disappear down the road. We forgot to take a picture. But I smile and think of y