James Owens lives in La Porte, Ind., with his wife and three children. When he is not pursuing marginal employment on the fringes of academia, he wanders the dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan and stares into the cold waves for hours at a time. Recent poems have appeared in Wind, Electric Acorn, and The Homestead Review. His first full-length collection of poems, The Assumption of Evenings, is scheduled for publication by Black Lawrence Press.

Elegy for Us Both

A report to you: It is one of those days
when even small things deepen
and texture the scene with particulars--

a riddle about the ants' trails on their hill,
all the sinuous involvements of grass.

A breeze at times lifts its cool cheek against mine,
arranging last details among late dandelions.

The maple mutters in its brillant shroud.
The wood thrush you loved scoops out his throat.

Do you remember how we stopped laughing
and gripped hands past the bench by the pond
because a man there was weeping mutely?
Tears shone on the backs of his hands.

But farther on, the ignorant sweet irises
found their way to exclamations of yellow
earlier than anything else in the woods.

The world is still like that.

Small Circle of Daylight

Early dusk and wind:
the brittle roses shake their tiny spears.

The sky weighs too much.
Miles of low clouds sop the blood

of some dire martyrdom.
The air's weft loosens to let in the dark.

Our dead---still paradox---
dread the world they have longed to regain.

Having traveled far,
they gape, they paw the raveling border.

Elegy for the Day After

A dry leaf scuttles on its points.
Clouds sag with sheets of forgotten light
like gray laundry.

A walnut unlocks from its twig.

The dead woman could finish sentences for me,
but one tuneless chord of wind
ruins the meditation on silence.

Breath searches the poplars.
Undersides of leaves glint like pale signals.

Some hollow desire brushes past
but does not shudder into speech.