James Valvis

Poem Composed Entirely with Last Lines in David Lehman Poems

My father, dead since 1971—
hey, it beats working!

But to bury him?
Just wave and leave.

I’m shocked though not surprised:
I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong,

No thanks for having me,
but I won’t deny it’s been wonderful.

I hope you’re listening.
Your voice comes out of my mouth.

James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington. His work has recently appeared in Atlanta Review, Bananafish, Foundling Review, Hanging Loose, Nimrod, Pank, Rattle, and is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Center, H_NGM_N, kill author, River Styx, and many others. A collection of his poems, How to Say Goodbye, is due in 2011.

“Growing up in Jersey City, I spent a lot of time alone and the front porch (we called it a stoop) was a place to throw my rubber ball. There were five steps and each one gave a different result, the top step line drives, the bottom high pop flies. But it was the middle third step that resulted in the goldilocks kick back, not too high or too low. I loved hitting that sweet spot and seeing the ball speed toward me with perfect trajectory. It didn't happen often, but when it did it was kid nirvana. I guess ever since I’ve been trying to recreate that feeling with my poems. Only with poetry, the corner of the third step is harder to hit and sometimes you have to be happy with a good line drive.”


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