Reasons

By Thomas James 1946–1974 Thomas James
For our own private reasons
We live in each other for an hour.
Stranger, I take your body and its seasons,
Aware the moon has gone a little sour

For us. The moon hangs up there like a stone
Shaken out of its proper setting.
We lie down in each other. We lie down alone
and watch the moon’s flawed marble getting

Out of hand. What are the dead doing tonight?
The padlocks of their tongues embrace the black,
Each syllable locked in place, tucked out of sight.
Even this moon could never pull them back,

Even if it held them in its arms
And weighed them down with stones,
Took them entirely on their own terms
And piled the orchard’s blossom on their bones.

I am aware of your body and its dangers.
I spread my cloak for you in leafy weather
Where other fugitives and other strangers
Will put their mouths together.

Thomas James, "Reasons" from Letters to a Stranger, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 2008 by Thomas James.  Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: Letters to a Stranger (Graywolf Press, 2008)

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Poet Thomas James 1946–1974

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Nature, The Body, Living, Death, Relationships, Love, Desire, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

Biography

Thomas James was born Thomas Edward Bojeski in Joliet, Illinois, where he would live most of his life. His poems, which demonstrate technical skill and the influence of Sylvia Plath, appeared in magazines and anthologies, including, North American Review, Poetry, and Poetry Northwest, which awarded him the Theodore Roethke Prize in 1969. He died in 1974 at the age of twenty-seven, shortly after the first publication of his only . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, The Body, Living, Death, Relationships, Love, Desire, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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