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James Penha

Poem for the Poet

(In response to the questions posed by Alex Dimitrov in "Poem For the Reader")

Dimitrov, you’re a New Yorker now
as I was for the first half of my life
amidst those four seasons poets
use to count time, but here I am
in Bali, alive and well and home now
stretched out on a rattan sofa listening
to the sea in my eyes. It’s rainy season:
daytime brutally hot, but, like the joy
after a migraine subsides, come evening
downpours unimaginable in Manhattan
remind us here for hours what we have
to lose.

I wear the morning after in a blue mood—yes,
indigo. In these difficult dawning hours, I wait
for my husband to open his eyes and although he
might hold me, I plan for the demons in his soul
to win.

Who was I before these trembling years? Why
don’t I rise up in the middle of the tempest,
pack my bags for freedom in New York where
the Brooklyn Bridge hums above the East River
for Walt, for Hart, for Frank, for you, for
bridge and river both provide fire. But what
of love?

And so here I am day and night, sun and rain,
a man for two seasons returning and turning
to him.


A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work has lately appeared in several anthologies: Home Is Where You Queer Your Heart, Pages Penned in Pandemic, The Impossible Beast: Queer Erotic Poems, The View From Olympia, Queers Who Don’t Quit, What We Talk About It When We Talk About It, Headcase, Lovejets, and What Remains. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha

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