Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

James – by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

In my great-grandfather’s wool

           hunting jacket things get done.

Not just weeding, and raking leaves,


pulling out

           the root of the matter,

           hammering loudly, turning screws

yanking planks

           and pounding everything

into the ground.

           This red and black jacket

is like the novel-

           a little too long and flammable

but I push the fear

of myself


into its absorbing wool.

My father James

           said his grandfather James

said it was very special.

           I am the first non-James to wear it.

That is apparent as it always smells like something else.

           I want to grow a beard, bleed,

have calloused hands,

           because inspiration begets inspiration.

Give me one answer to put in my pocket.

That was just the time, see, when people

 cut their own wood,

went into the woods with dogs

And hopefully came out again.

           Great-grandpa James had

a bullet stuck under his skin

           and would wiggle it with one finger

if you asked.

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens graduated from New York University, and currently lives in Iowa City, IA. She is the author of the chapbook “EveryHerDies,” (ELJ Publications, forthcoming 2014.) She has written four YA non-fiction books (Rosen Publishing) and has poems published in Emerge Literary Journal, Superstition Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds, Rufous City Review, Menacing Hedge, Stirring, Eunoia Review, Star82Review, Burningwood Journal, Bitterzoet Magazine, and other journals online and in print. She participated in Iowa City’s 2013 Poetry in Public Project and was recently nominated for Best of the Net. For a complete list of publications visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/


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