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James R. Whitley


Given the hairline crack in my bedroom mirror,

I now realize there is a grave need for concern,


concern about the gross flaw it--wholly unconcerned,

impenitent--slashes across every imperfect, yet


workable, reflection, the inconsistency it adds

to the innocent details of any image, an undesired


deepening of whatever shiny tragedies already lie

sandwiched between the layers of dust and silver backing.


And I can appreciate, now, the self-indulgent

run of the fracture splintering the seen thing


into chaos, the troublesome thread of refracted light,

growing, spreading steadily until it becomes


the principal focus of the gaze,

until it is the something-to-see.


This is the bittersweet lesson which survivors--

despite their tender scars, their sleep-altering regrets--


limp homeward from adversity with.

This is the dangerous knowledge:


that there's no gainsaying a bruise,

that there's peril in ignoring the disturbing


speckled egg recently-appeared in the nest,

and that any weed popping its officious head up


in the trusting green of the yard--no matter how slight

or shy initially--can usurp the entire field if left unchecked.



James R. Whitley lives in Boston, Massachusetts.  His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in numerous literary journals including The Caribbean Writer, The Paumanok Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Xavier Review.  His first poetry book, Immersion (Lotus Press, 2002), was selected by Lucille Clifton as the winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award.  His second poetry collection, This is the Red Door, recently won the Ironweed Press Poetry Prize and will be published in early 2004. Whitley is also the author of two chapbooks: Pieta (Pudding House Publications, 2001) and The Golden Web (Wind River Press, 2003).

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