James Duncan

Spiders at Night

a bowl of pears and a stack
of 45 records in reflective vinyl
on the kitchen counter,
domestic signifiers, two pens,
a Joy of Cooking book leaning
against a bread box your dead
grandmother gave you ten years ago,
years and months and days of bread

you smashed a spider on the wall
with the heel of your fist;
outside in the November night a shadow
walks by with a dog casting
figures across the asphalt, shroud
over the moon, stillness, somnolence
a feeling you should call your father

at some point life slowed down and
sped up at the same time at the same
crossroads where all things are now
possible and none of them happen
and the pain comes in incremental
doses crawling higher and higher
through the orange bottles lining up
on your dresser, the minutes
spidering along, the years
counted one by one like the sound of
like 18-wheelers on the highway
on the other side of the fence
in the back yard nighttime desolation

I want to reach through time and space
and tell you one good thing after
another but we’re at that crossroads
instead, where the words form but
nobody speaks, and the shadows move
in and out of streetlights, growing
shorter then longer, then gone
and I know what to say to you
I know how to express love, but
when I reach for the phone by the bowl
of pears, I pause and watch the highway
lights outside the window, in the cold
November nighttime and wonder who
how when where and sometimes why


James DuncanJames H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review and author of We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine (Unknown Press), Dead City Jazz (Epic Rites Press), Berlin (Maverick Duck Press), and other books of poetry and fiction. His work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Drunk Monkeys, Five:2:One, Up The Staircase Quarterly, and Red Fez, among other publications. For more about his books and his reviews of independent bookshops, visit www.jameshduncan.com.

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