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Category archive for: Jim Daniels

The Geography of Detroit

requires no assembly. Requires the stubborn faith

of the abandoned child at the locked church door

clutching his get out of jail free card. Requires

the illusion of covering your tracks

when no one gives a damn to start with.

I felt I was off to a good start, then ended up

with swearing and a preposition. That’s how

it works here, 6 Mile Road to 36 Mile Road,

praying for the optical illusion of cliffs

to justify free fall.

Someone carved the history of the auto industry

on a piece of rock salt. That piece of salt

went on to melt a small slice of ice

and contribute to the construction

of the world’s largest pothole.

I was going to say, “That’s another story,”

but there is no other story.

Going to need some gas soon.

Shouldn’t be the last word

but it is.

from Birth MarksFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Hit and Run

The girl was crossing the street, birthday cake in hand.

The bus against the curb blocked traffic.

   My daughter dances three nights a week

   with graceful insects—level three, purple leotards.

Last night playing softball in the park, I leaned

against the fence where the girl’s friends left flowers.

You will never be forgotten, the scrawled sign read.

   I was dropping my daughter off at dance that night

   right after the accident. Body parts strewn across the road

   in front of the studio. Even the police looked stricken.

   I swerved around them, kept going. My daughter

   claims she closed her eyes and saw nothing.

At softball, I eyed the frayed flowers, the plaintive sign

streaked by rain. Liquid life goes on, and everyone

is forgotten. I was 2 for 3 and made a nice play

at second. I cannot tell you the final score.

   I cannot tell you who that birthday cake was for,

   splattered amid the gore. The ritual singing of sirens.

The other team had some asshole pitching,

whining about every call. Old guy my age

who should’ve known better than to care: Ball. Strike.

Safe. Out. Who cares? Nobody got hurt—

at our age, isn’t that enough, oh worthy opponent?

   A severed leg in the road. You can still see

   the imperfect yellow circles drawn by police, fading.

Oh, dancing daughter. Watch me make a catch. Watch me

run the bases. Open your eyes, girl.

from Birth MarksFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

The Laying on of Hands

Their bodies touch, casual in the classroom,

fingers brushing thighs under cluttered desks.

Go home and fuck, I’d tell them

if I was high or not in charge. Lust oozes above

my low bark stripping somebody’s words naked.

Their bodies touch in the casual classroom

of nodding heads half-detached, glazing out

into the gray February blah blah blah.

Go home and fuck! I’d tell them

if we were friends. A statue of our founder imposes itself

above dirty snow like twisted black coal, an effigy of me.

Their caustic bodies touch in the classroom. They know

each other. Everything. The floor burns beneath them.

My notes erupt in flames. I taste the ash.

Go home. Fuck you! I’d like to tell them.

It’s not on the syllabus. I’m talking about character today.

Punctuation leads me astray. The boy the girl the ink bleeds.

Their bodies touch. Causality in the classroom.

Go home. Fuck, what can I tell them?

from Birth MarksFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.