The following are selections by James Beery
( All poems are under copyright and cannot be
re-produced without the author's written consent )


Forever          (top)

Forever isn't very long -

Only the time it takes to lose a childhood
Or the eternal space between people a table apart.

Forever is in that tension in your neck
When infants cry
And glass shatters
And voices shout without meaning to.

Forever is when the sun always rises
But the day never comes,
Only an endless twilight.

Forever is when you say
"Leave me alone"
When all you want is the company of another.

Forever is waiting for your friends
As they are becoming acquaintances.

Forever is praying to God
For just an answer
To years-old pleas.

Forever is your mother saying
"I love you..."
And nothing ever changes.

Forever is every short street you drive down.
Forever is the love you'll never have.
Forever is the person you'll never be.
Forever...

... is me.

6-8-98




(top)
         Neighbors 

It's a real fixer-upper, isn't it?
This empty space where my soul lived
With termites and cobwebs and water damage
From all the tears I couldn't cry.
It used to be a good place
But then the neighborhood got bad.
Death moved in when I was seven
And his cousins Grief and Depression followed right along.
Not long after came Obesity,
That fat old uncle who won't go away.
(He enjoys home cooking the best,
But he'll eat anything.)
Alcoholism rolled into my life a year later
Driving a shit-green and rust Ford pickup.
Terror and his roommate Paranoia came next
And we hung out a lot for the next several years.
I met Desperation for the first time when I was fourteen.
She cut my wrist
(just a tiny mark)
And smiled at me with those sharp, pearly teeth.
Crimson-haired Loneliness and her lover Silence
Broke one of the beds one night.
Rage moved into the attic and nailed the door shut.
(We only hear him when he stops shouting.)
Self-Esteem got locked in the closet -
Did we ever let him out?
And all the rooms got trashed because of the drunken fights.
Suicide paid a brief visit,
Threw me a surprise party with Desperation's help,
And seduced beautiful Silence before he left.
Loneliness reached out to Desperation in search of something
That neither could ever hope to find...

Now most have moved out -
Death leaves me pretty much alone
Although he sometimes visits my family.
Grief left a long time ago,
But Depression is a frequent house guest.
Obesity still lives here, but I just don't pay attention anymore.
Alcoholism got a Suburban and lives on the other side of town.
Terror and Paranoia stay with him most of the time
But visit me on occasion, just to let me know that they still care.
Desperation and I have grown apart over the years,
Although we still chat now and again.
Loneliness is a frequent companion,
But Silence tries to avoid my company
(I don't think she likes me anymore).
Rage is taking his medication
And he's trying not to punch holes in the walls anymore.
Self-Esteem actually poked his head out of the closet recently.
Suicide writes threatening letters,
Never actually stopping by.
And the big news is that
My soul might actually move back in someday.
It's a real fixer-upper, isn't it?
I'm going to have to change that.

6-5-98




Before Our Time          (top)

Before I could think
But now I just drink
And I'm coming apart at the seams...
The coffee cup's cold,
I'm feeling so old
And I never remember my dreams.
I sit here alone
Next to the pay phone
In a place by the Interstate.
I wait for my friend
I wait for the end
I'm waiting for the hand of Fate.

I'll buy her a beer,
Ask what she's doing here
Like we're still just a couple of friends.
She'll light up a smoke
And she'll crack an old joke
And we'll both laugh like we're on the mend.
But we both know inside
We've got too much to hide
And there's never enough time to talk...
She looks at the sky
And the trucks going by
And says that she's taking a walk.

I pay up the bill
'Cause I've eaten my fill
And I offer to stroll alongside.
We walk in the night
Just before the dawn's light
And in her I can finally confide.
The traffic flows by
Barely blinking an eye
As we stand on the overpass edge-
We talk of lost days
And her eyes hold my gaze
And then we jump, keeping our pledge.

3-23-98





(top)
          Where the Light Won't Find You
There's a place somewhere
Where the light won't find you
A place where you can hide
From the eyes of the day

Somewhere you can run to
When it all feels too much
And you can't do anything
To stop the assault

There's a place somewhere
Where you'll never be alone
Where all the pain of living
Can be locked outside

There's a room somewhere
Where the light won't find you
With curtains and padding
And bars on the windows

Two arms to hold you
Protect you from the world outside
And from the enemy within
And the pills that are supposed to help

A bed in the corner
That they tie you down to at night
Because they are afraid
You might hurt yourself

Somewhere, the light can't find you
And as soon as I know where it is
We'll take a trip there together
Because it's been far too long

We'll go there at night
And play in the fountains
And then look at the faraway stars
From the roof of the parking garage

We'll eat greasy food
And laugh as we run down the streets
One step ahead of the past
And matching strides with tomorrow

And we'll piss off the cops
Throw bricks through storefront windows
Before hiding in my Cadillac
And crying all night

And in the hours before dawn
I'll take you back to where the
Light can't find you anymore
And lay you down on the narrow bed

You look so small lying there
Pale from your endless darkness
I want to hold your hand but
The straightjacket won't let me

There's a place somewhere
Where the light won't find you
A place where I can hide my eyes
From another day

2-23-98




In Absentia Spero (In the Absence of Hope)          (top)

Something in the water, maybe...
Or maybe something in the blood.
Something keeps you here,
Staring at these four white walls
Waiting for your quiet response.

This isn't where you wanted to go...
And you're not who I wanted to be.
You and I have travelled this path together
But alone; this silence is terrifying -
You were always so strong before...
And I never knew just how weak I am alone.

Something got away from you, didn't it...
Something I never knew you had,
Something you never wanted to keep...
Something that I hoped would be enough-

But it's not helping now
And the blood is thin and cold...
Despite what they say, blood
Was never thicker than water-
I just kept it hidden well until now.

You and I have travelled this path together
But now we must part ways-
The unspoken words will never be said
And, meaningless now, fade into the darkness.
That is the absence of hope...

2-16-98




 (top)         10,000 Hands of Solitaire

I've played ten hands of solitaire today.
I'm not very good; I keep losing,
keep putting the wrong card in the wrong place
and having to start all over again.
I'll get better at it, though; I have my whole life to practice.

I've played fifty hands of solitaire today
and it's not even noon yet.
I'm not very skilled; every time I shuffle
the cards end up all over the table.
I'll get better at it, though; I can practice at night,
after doing my homework and the chores.

I've played a hundred hands of solitaire today.
My hands hurt from the continual shuffle
and redeals I make, trying to win a game just once.
I'm not very professional; sometimes I cheat,
pull a card from the deck out of turn,
for all the good it does me.
I'll get better at it, though; I practice in the dark,
after my family has gone to bed, repeating the motion
of the elusive One-Handed Shuffle to no avail.

I've played a thousand hands of solitaire today.
The blisters and welts on my hands have never healed
because I can't stop playing the game,
shuffling, dealing the cards, flipping them over
just to find that I've lost again.
I cheat at every opportunity now but nothing
helps me become a better player.
I'm no good at the game; I can see this now.
I never have been.
I'll get better at it, though; with this much time invested,
I have little choice.

I've played ten thousand hands of solitaire.
I haven't slept in three days.
I've eaten enough to feed a small army, but
the emptiness remains.
One hand, just one hand won without cheating or peeking
or thinking that everything will be okay if I win just one hand.
Sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of whiskey
and a chrome revolver
and a Bicycle deck
thinking of how to win just one hand.
Just one hand.
Just one time.
I'll get better at it, though; I have nothing left to lose.

I've played countless hands of solitaire over the years
and now it has come down to the flip of a single card.
If I win I'll keep on playing;
If I lose I'll quit the game forever,
take up something easier
like gardening

I've always loved lilies in the rain

8-11-97

 



This gallery hosted at RookNet
All poems are the property of James Beery.
They are under copyright and cannot be
re-produced without the author's written consent.

All Graphic work provided by Kenneth Rumsey