Leland James

The Love Song of (Starbuck) Jones

“And how should I presume?”
—The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T. S. Eliot

Harbored in an alcove of agreeable safe
space, his likeness in his hand, oh yes!
His image bold in analog, a balding spot
redressed. Jonesy among the coffee beans:

(Starbuck) pours out his bold espresso heart
—sending a salted caramel, Venti, kiss;
a butterfly in amber, his love-letter scroll
—a digital Christian and Cyrano.

Magic lantern faces in theaters made with
thumbs; foregone the risk, the glint and grit
of oyster shells and beer, hands held, along
a wordless waterfront—not (Starbuck) Jones!

Prufrock redux, unleashed, airborne, presumed.
(Starbuck) Jones: another love song in the ruins.


A fateful shadow falls on a sunny face,
an innocent, downtrodden flower: dandelion;
like Cinderella told to keep her place!
A humble meadow herb, in suburbs maligned.

Medicinal, nutritious, a balm on sores,
on scrapes, for stings; the grape of dandy wines ….
Yet scorned like salesmen, door-to-door, and whores,
where lawns like poodles have highborn blood lines.

Only poets and children praise poor dandelion,
gather her up in glad springtime bouquets
from golden seas the likes of lofty Zion
—but persona non grata on Terra’s fairways.

Oh callous world! stay your trowels of doom.
Make a place in your heart, let dandelions bloom.

A Pantoum of Wager

God said to Satan: Have you seen my servant Job, a man who fears God and shuns evil. Satan replied, “You’ve bought him with blessings. Take them away and he’ll spit in your eye.” God said to Satan, “OK, I’ll take that bet. He’s yours. Have at him. We’ll see. —the story of Job, The Bible

A wager of God’s shall we ponder
—threads baroque as spider’s web,
an exquisite hourglass of torture—
the serpentine suffering of Job!

Threads baroque as spider’s web,
celestial grant of Satanic torment!
The serpentine suffering of Job!
Who fathoms the rune of Job’s lament?

Celestial grant of Satanic torment!
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel …?”
Who fathoms the rune of Job’s lament?
Where was Job when God made the land?

“Who is this that darkeneth counsel …?”
An exquisite hourglass of torture!
Where was Job when God made the land?
A wager of God’s, shall we ponder?


Leland James is the author of seven books of poetry and a book on poetry craft. He has published over 200 poems worldwide, including The Lyric, Rattle, The Spoon River Poetry Review, London Magazine. He was the winner of an Atlanta Review International Publication Prize, and winner of the UK’s Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, and has won or received honors in many other competitions.

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