James is a Pushcart Prize nominee and author of Immersion (Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award winner), This Is the Red Door (Ironweed Press Poetry Prize winner), Pietà and The Golden Web. He lives in Massachusetts.
© 2007 James R. Whitley
In My Glass House
When I refuse to give him more money,
my brother—the would-be basketball legend,
the one blessed with good hair and long eyelashes,
the one who ran from his formal education and
the mothers of his multiple children as if
they were all burning buildings and stockades—
feels compelled to tell me I've changed for the worse.
And I don't deny his request just because loan and gift
are synonymous in the language he speaks that's so
foreign to me, rather it's more about being the one
who appreciates the value of learning from falling,
the one changed for the better by suffering through.
He continues spewing corrosive acid effortlessly
through the phone line even as I marvel at how
technology has advanced the modes of combat,
how battles have shifted to more convenient sites—
no more hand-to-hand crassness, same purple hearts.
I think about how unfortunate it is that we are sibling
soldiers on opposite sides of a skirmish that foments
anew with the slightest spark, even as I hunker down
in the plush foxhole of my chenille sofa, as I down
my rations of pumpkin cheesecake and tawny port
and prepare for the sleep of the victorious-by-default.
All work is property of James R. Whitley.
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