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James Valvis

James Valvis is the author of How to Say Goodbye (Aortic Books, 2011).  A former soldier in the U.S. Army, he served during Desert Storm.  He’s fond of football and bad paperback novels.  He grew up in New Jersey, spent time in Florida, South Carolina, Indianapolis, Illinois, and Michigan, but now lives near Seattle with his wife, daughter, and cat.  He owns a toy robot collection and collects William Saroyan books and abstracts.


Less Beautiful

All my life I’ve loved the leaves shining deliriously
and how the breathless wildflowers galloped up hills.
What joy came from faces, and truth burned me to ash.

But my ex-wife, Darcy, was different.

Bored, she would demand I take her to a bar,
and after I took her, she’d demand I take her home.

How desperately I loved her, and how quickly she tired of me.

I used to think I wasn’t beautiful enough for her,
that she needed someone who collected moonglow in his mouth
so that he could kiss her with light,
that if I could just be a finer poet she might love me.

But now I think it may have been the reverse.

She wanted someone much less beautiful.
She wanted a guy who liked drinking in bars.

The Sun Looking Down on Icarus

What kind of nonsense is this?
I’ve spent an eternity up here,
boiling red, never a flicker
nor a moment of insincerity.
I give my heat, my light, willingly
and ask nothing in return—
and today I look down
to see this boy, his arms fluttering,
his jaw set and determined, his eyes
shut tight against my glare.
What prompted this imbecile
to desire me? What fool gave him flight?
What makes this monkey soar?
Wings of wax the eons spit upon!
Why? Have I not done my duty?
Have I let a day pass not saying hello,
not greeting him each morning
with a warm kiss? Hasn’t our marriage
been polite? Look how his legs
kick the wind, how his face turns
from cheek to cheek, ascending.
Does he think, after all this time,
he alone will cool my body?
Tell me, what creature is this who chooses
to fall miles to climb mere inches higher?

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