Two Poems by James White






Time is a surgeon

I am a spoke.
Turning clockwise, not
at all the wiser.
Choices dig their roots into
soil without my consent but I
water them anyway.
A mossy and rotted
wheel rooted to the ground but I
keep turning anyway.
Here we are.

I am a cloud.
Sitting in the sky
to watch another
offset planet rotate.
The offset offers novelty
but I am still manmade,
still tethered to the dirt
by choices I did or
did not make.

I am a child.
When I watch the clouds
instead, I just want to thrash
in the mud and pull
all the roots up. I’ve made
so many dirty decisions.
Never happy where I am
because that means I am
stopped. Sitting still
in a temper tantrum, the roots
won’t die when I’ve chosen
to uproot them.

I am a circle.
There’s a golden ratio in me
sketched beneath my skin.
Would I do it
all again for in-progress
pencil marks, eraser
pulp, and torn paper?
Rashes from the long
hike to the molten core
of my choices.
and assembled
and shattered
and assembled.

I sit at a table with dioramas
of my life. The roots
aren’t roots anymore.
Plastic dolls and play-doh warn
me of the wheel
that turned till
it could turn no
more. Would I do it
all again when I am clockwise
and counter,
an offset axis,
an air balloon
still tethered?

Check my pulse to feel
it beat backwards.
Would I do it all again?
Let the root break my skin.
I set myself in motion.

I am jealous of koalas

After we gave up, we went
to the zoo. I stared at myself
in the reflection of glass
cages, ashamed I couldn’t tell you
I hated being
there with you.

You talk to me
about essential oils. I think about
eucalyptus. At a tourist gift shop,
I bought a shot glass.
The smell of eucalyptus will remind
me of us, broken at the zoo.

I know each leaf is filled with poison,
pulled from the Pacific. They’d kill
the koala if the koala
didn’t have a trained gut
over thousands and thousands
of years.

A core diet comprised
of risk. I’d never be brave
enough to stomach it, so I eat
the hot dog you bought me
because you don’t remember
I’m a vegetarian.

The koala can spot the caltrops
on the road, churn them in their gut
easy as pie, blue as sky.
In the grove, happy
as a clam, eating its poison,
absentmindedly solid in itself.

James (Jay) White is a queer poet whose works represent his emerging love for poetry that is quirky and expressive while reflecting on family, identity, and the natural world. Jay earned his BA in Communications from the University of Maryland and lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Peter Chadzidocev, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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