Mike James

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Talking With Allen Ginsberg, In A Dream

                                    for John Stephens

i’m in ginsberg’s apartment
he sips tea
from a ceramic cup with no handle Artwork by Gene McCormick
looks thoughtful in a white, cotton kimono
that’s a little stained, a little frayed at sleeves
the kimono’s half open
shows gray hairs above a
wrinkled, pot belly
as he leans against his small kitchen counter
not a “cooker’s kitchen”
instead a place to heat canned soup
make sandwiches
eat late night yogurt and veggie snacks

i tell him
my favorite of your books
is the last one
death and fame

you like posthumous things
he asks
cause i do…always have…even now

i tell him
it’s mainly that last poem
the one about your funeral
i love those
jokey lines 

i’ll show you how i do it
he says
(starts to sway back and forth)
begin slowly or quickly
clear your mind
let one thought bleed to another
this can take a while
maybe an hour or twelve
that last poem was good
could have been bad
too often are
that’s ok
turn bad poems into paper airplanes
bless them and toss


Mike James has been widely published in magazines throughout the country.  He has published seven poetry collections.  Elegy in Reverse (2014, Aldrich Press) and Past Due Notices:  Poems 1991-2011 (2012, Main Street Rag) are his most recent.  He also serves as the publisher, with his wife Diane, of Yellow Pepper Press, a small poetry broadside press. After years spent in South Carolina, Missouri and Pennsylvania he now lives in Douglasville, Georgia with his wife and five children.