poet

James Tolan

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James Tolan received his PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is the author of Filched (Dos Madres Press, 2017) and Mass of the Forgotten (Autumn House Press, 2013), and coeditor of New America: Contemporary Literature for a Changing Society (Autumn House Press, 2012). He was the recipient of honors from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and taught English and creative writing at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Tolan died on March 8, 2017.

by this poet

poem
At Edwards’ Field, near the marsh, ours was the blood 
the mosquitoes in their gangly stealth sought. At dusk 
the city sent a truck, its sprinkler spraying 
a cascade of malathion, foul line to foul line, 
from out past the chain-link fence. Time called, 

we spread our arms and turned like we’d been told,
poem
Inside this grave 
womb that drums 
and groans 
as it takes

picture 
after 
picture 
of my spine

I hear it 
seem to say

go        /           you go	

don’t   /           you go


don’t go          /           don’t		

go now	           /           don’t

I’m 52, inside 
this calibrated tube, this
poem
Every head should have a body.

Every body
            a soul the size
                        of a jukebox loaded

with tunes our bodies know without us.

My hips begin
            to remember
                        the pleasure I was born to

my mouth to hum the songs I never knew

I didn’t know