Volume III (Summer 2008)
ISSN 1934-4324

James R. Whitley

James R. Whitley’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including Barrelhouse, elimae, Mississippi Review, Pebble Lake Review, Poetry Southeast, the strange fruit, and Texas Poetry Journal. Whitley’s first book Immersion won the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. His second collection This Is the Red Door won the Ironweed Press Poetry Prize and was published in 2007.


A Surrogate for Blue


Again, the clouds spit out their

accumulated anguish as rain.


In the alley, a feral cat scurries to

escape the intrusive storm, distracted

from her hunt for something discarded

that might yet retain some value.


You’re being admitted to the hospital again.

It’s the fifth time in seven months.


You take a sip of water so as not to

choke on your words, then assure us

this will be the last time.


There is something primitive in the air—

a soul-deep drumming, an incidental

music like the belling of a distant carillon,

something like faith dopplering away.


Or maybe it’s just this ritual of thunder,

receding now almost as quickly as it began.


But what to call this stain the sky wears?

Heft? Remorse? Catharsis? Compromise?


As if on cue, stars begin punching holes in

the night sky like tiny fists, like grains of salt

tossed, in vain, over the shoulder for luck.