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Mike James

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Laurel Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His poetry collections include: Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review, as well as the publisher of the now defunct Yellow Pepper Press. In the spring of 2020 Luchador Press will publish his 15th collection, Journeyman’s Suitcase.

Kevin Ridgeway

BRAIN MATTER
chow time came before the sun went down on L.A. County Jail, where people try to trade shots of instant coffee for fruit in order to make pruno. I had just been taken off suicide watch and had been stuffed into a yellow mental health smock for dings like us or whatever else the deputies laughingly called us. Everyone’s favorite meal was called brain matter, our tray canvasses decorated in gray hamburger and a decadent brown mystery sauce over curly noodles. We slurped from other inmates’ scraps of a kind of meat we couldn’t beat after lights out and we all passed out fat, happy and behind bars. I started to almost miss the god forsaken place in the cab headed away from downtown LA en route to the suburb where my uncle reluctantly said I could sleep on his couch. That night I had to start proving that my brain mattered more than the way I treated it with the disintegration of what I was really made of: the armor I inherited with a straight poker face and everything my father taught me in his old prison stories of bad foo…