A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

William James


There Was Once A Living Thing Here, Now There Is Nothing But A Graveyard


My mother was a pocket watch, my father, a steam shovel
& their mouths when they kissed were like great oceans 

full of gasping. Flower stems. Rosary beads. They ate handfuls
of sand, fed each other broken bits of emerald until 

they polished their teeth to a perfect shine. Swallowed
clock springs & copper wire, chewed tiny rocks to splinters. 

Gorged themselves on beech wood & ash. Every time they smiled, 
their mouths filled to overflowing with gulps of blood.



Somewhere in my closet, I have a shoebox stuffed full of all kinds of ephemeral merchandise I've collected over the years from different bands I've had the chance to perform with. For the most part, they're all small, local, 'never-gonna-make-it-outta-this-town' types who've built thriving punk scenes out of their small (and largely ignored) communities. Over the years, as I've toured, I've gotten to trade demo tapes, hand-lettered CD's, zines, chapbooks, etc. with kids from places that look exactly like where I came from. I haven't been touring much the past few years, and this box is a good reminder of how punk rock thrives, whether I'm there as a part of it or not.

William James is a poet, punk rocker, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. He is a contributing editor for Drunk In A Midnight Choir & the author of "rebel hearts & restless ghosts" (Timber Mouse, 2015). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in armchair/shotgun, Bird's Thumb, Dirty Chai, Really System, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.