James Ackerley Porter, mmmmmmmmmmm



Although the Mecca Theater is two years dark,
high-collared apparitions slink from matinees.
Ghosts in clouds of cigarette smoke
open doors slowly, keep the uninvited
likes of winter from slinking into rooms
as empty as a world without weather.
Loneliness is an obscene show that never closes.
Across the street antique stores sell parted-out lives
and postcards with dead-hand cursive writhing
in the afterlife. Those missed create an inversion
that settles on this town. All these years,
people blamed the bad air on the mills,
slagged this city without stopping
to drop a dime into the hat.
One man’s sign says
Will work for a million dollars.
Humor is a gift like music. It stays,
cleanses the soot from lives, though some
jokes masquerade as humor.
They are cruelty in clown-face.
So many scarlet letters misread.
Triple X neon flashes through tinted widows.
Three x’s at the bottom of a page mean kisses.
Let X mark the spot to find man in the mist.


James Ackerley Porter, Looking Down At You, 2010; First Look, 2010



Buses show late on rain days,
books swell like bathtub sponges,
what she prayed over your photo
settles like asbestos dust.

She whispered precisely, a chant-
like string of shan’ts and ain’ts, a call
to cousins a call to saints and suddenly
no hell broke loose though your teeth
lost their grip, and you felt the whiffle
of Sebastian after the arrows.

She could curse in combinations
as smooth as coffee drinks, cup size,
add shots, iced or not –
one eye squinted, the other rounded out
like an eclipsed moon under a brow
arched in an acute angle, the eyes
together a circus in dim light.

What could go unsaid is the part
where she frees a spider in a jar
on the neck of your old shirt.
It’s not necessary to know she rocks
in her wicker chair on the back porch
in the house you made together.
Your throat constricts all the same.


James Ackerley Porter, What?, 2010