Three Poems by William James

Praise Song For Appropriation
or, 'For White Boys Who Have Considered Stealing A Woman's Voice When Their Own Traumas Aren't Enough


This burden I must bear is far too great
for any man to shoulder all alone,
so friend, I beg you – support me as I state
the painful ways this tragedy's my own
to wield, to fall upon as though a sword
ripped through my heart, cut deeper than the scars
which violence has carved into your door.
How brave of me! Your righteous anger mars
the beauty of this sacrifice I've made!
How dare you insist that I hold my tongue,
and give you space to heal. Let me explain:
I need to be the hero, so I've spun
a tale of martyrdom based on your loss,
to hang myself, a saint, upon this cross. 




At 13, I Say Fuck In Front Of My Mother For The First Time


the aluminum               ladder reaches

skyward, fully               stretched toward

the canopy of              heaven. the model

rocket I labored                        to build

all summer                   in 4-H

is snared                       in the thicket

of oak leaves,               sixteen feet

above my head.                        gravity is

a greedy mouth,                       a glutton

pulling hard                  at the silver

rungs which                  are meant

to facilitate                  the rescue.

a sharp pop &              the locks break,

sending the                   extension hurtling

down, the ladder           collapsing

like a loose knife,         taking my finger

tight between               hungry teeth.

my hand swells,                        an appendage

thickening                    with blood.



My Mind Is A Piano. My Left Arm Is A Violin.


in my heart
there is a
banquet of

my mouth
is a gated
of mongrel dogs

i am making
a fist of
with hammers
for teeth

i am swimming
in an asphalt
swamp, my belly full of
blossoming stars





William James writes poems and listens to punk rock—not always in that order. He currently lives in Manchester, NH, where he pretends to be older & angrier than he really is.