James Cagney 2019

James Cagney Jr.

James Cagney is a poet from Oakland, Ca. He has performed in venues and museums throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. His first book, Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour of Chaos Theory, is out now by Nomadic Press.  Visit his blog at https://thedirtyrat.blog/


startled seeing you
gulping air, muted

from a touchscreen on the ground.

people stepped over you
confetti misted

I felt sad lifting you off the ground

How did you get here, I asked
My mom dropped me off, you said

You wore an old-movie fedora
You looked nice

I searched for your mother
but she dissolved

in the stir of strangers.
I couldn’t look in your face

I leaned you on a plank up high
so you could see everything

But you just asked me
to hold you

Puja The Four Elements
(Puja = Acts of Worship)

This Puja to the Air! When you feel alone, Shout! You are not alone. There’s no better Puja than a deep breath. Use it to push against eternity. Tell the truth. This Puja to the air! We are still catching up to the air that we are.

This Puja to the Waters! Bless the first jewels of rain vocalizing into the ocean. Tea distilled from the loyalty of angels. Bless the mirror balls spinning on the lashes of a beautiful child, in tears. We are the molecules of that water. We are still catching up to the waters that we are.

This Puja to the Fire! The cherry pilot light hovering 10,000 miles behind our eyes. The conflagration from a match head simply licking red phosphorus goodnight. We are that fire. We are still catching up to the fires that we are.

This Puja to the Earth! This Puja to the feathers, the skin, the hair, the scale, the shell, the leaf, the bark, the living and the dead. Turkeys walk as agents of the subconscious amongst the men, women asleep on the floor of the Khar Road train station. We complete the circuit to everything seen. We are the responsible earth. We are a grain of god in the cosmos of god. We are still catching up to the God that we are.

Estuary Holiness

the cormorant turns
facing the parish estuary
wings a laundered bishop’s robe
rippling against
the baptismal tide
of the days final waves

squiggling silver knitting
minnows begin threading
tender waves

their noisy devotional
catches the curiosity
of passing mallards

and the weeping man
from the flower garden

all pallbearers in this spontaneous
procession of praise