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picture of James Babbs

I pulled a beer from the fridge

before twisting off the cap

and tossing it toward the wastebasket

it tumbled through the air

and hit the edge of the container

it seemed to just teeter there

on the brink of going in


                 from Something Else by James Babbs







My Girlfriend Gave Me This Shirt

The Time and Temperature Lady

Before The Shootings

Tonight Iím Drinking Trying to Forget You

Things That Arenít Important Happen All the Time

A Hundred Years From Now

Watching the Movie Sylvia

Something Else

All the Poems Ran Away

Black Cow




1 Ė BIOGRAPHY:  James Babbs


James Babbs lives in the same small town where he grew up.  He has had hundreds of poems and a few short stories published, both, online and in print.  He has been published in This Is Poetry, Volume 2: The Midwest Poets and recently has appeared online at In Between Hangovers and Your One Phone Call.  James is the author of Another Beautiful Night(Lulu.com, 2010), Disturbing The Light(Interior Noise Press, 2013) and The Weight of Invisible Things(Finishing Line Press, 2013).






My Girlfriend Gave Me This Shirt


my girlfriend gave me this shirt

sheís not my girlfriend anymore

but Iím still wearing the shirt


itís a perfectly good shirt and

Iím not going to throw it away

maybe some guys would do that

but whatís the point

I mean

Iím reminded of her

whether Iím wearing the shirt or not

so I might as well

keep wearing it and

write a poem about it and

get as much as I can from it


it doesnít really change anything and

weíre no longer together

so wearing the shirt

or not wearing it

what the hell difference does it make



The Time and Temperature Lady


when I was younger

I dialed her number

late at night lying on

the bed in my room


I loved the sound of

her voice

the way she said

the numbers like

she was speaking

just to me and

for a long time

I thought she was

really out there somewhere

sitting alone in some glass booth

waiting for the phone to ring

and even after I discovered

she was only a recording

there were still nights

when I called her and

held the phone to my ear

after sheíd finished hoping

if I waited long enough

her voice would come back on

asking me

if I was okay and

did I need anything else



Before The Shootings


years before there were school shootings

Steve took me to the school parking lot

and showed me the gun he kept

under the seat of his truck

let me hold it in my hand

it was heavier than I expected

Steve said it was a three fifty-seven magnum

capable of blowing a hole the size of

a nickel through an engine block

I gave it back to him

and never considered him a threat

he put the gun back under the seat

and we went back inside



Tonight Iím Drinking Trying to Forget You




Iím drinking

trying to forget you

the bartender

this cute blonde

with the beautiful smile

bringing me another beer

and telling me how every night

she makes enough in tips to pay

her utilities for the month

she loves this job

but sheís going to school


she wants to be a teacher

wants to work with kids

she has a son of her own

he just turned five and

looks like his father

but donít ask her about him

she hasnít heard anything

from him for a long time and

she doesnít know where heís at

doesnít really care


heís an asshole

and I watch the way she moves

like a beautiful dancer

I tell her

slurring my words a little

sheíll own this place

before allís said and done

and she throws back her head

laughing with her eyes closed

and I think

oh hell

there goes another five bucks




Iím drinking

trying to forget you

two guys across the bar

comparing tattoos

lifting their shirts and

turning around

so people can get a better view

when one of them

starts taking off his pants

somebody laughs

but his wife or girlfriend

or whoever she might be

slaps him and

tells him to stop

they start talking about their scars

the first guy saying

he got this one outside

some nightclub in Detroit

after some fat ass

mouthed off to his girlfriend

then the chickenshit

pulled a knife on him

instead of standing there

and fighting him like a man

the second guy saying

he got this one

when he was a kid

when he ran across the yard

and fell on a rake

and had to have fourteen stitches

and didnít have to go to school

for two or three days

and he laughed

talking about how mad his brother got


he didnít get to stay home




Iím drinking

trying to forget you

but I keep thinking about you

wondering where you are

what you might be doing


while two attractive women

slow dance together

to a Van Morrison song

running their hands

over each otherís body

and I see them


one of them touching

the other oneís hair

telling the bartender

I need another beer

laying my money down

before I go to take a piss

walking past the guys

with the tattoos and the scars

wondering if I should tell them

about my own scars

the ones hidden on the inside

I can feel them in there

but I canít take my shirt off

and show them how they look


thereís nothing for them to see



Things That Arenít Important Happen All the Time


stopping at the gas station

on my way home from work

filling up the car and

maybe while Iím here

Iíll get something to eat

theyíve got good subs

that they make themselves

so I head toward the kitchen

the woman at the front counter

where they keep the cigarettes and

the lottery machine

smiles at me

when she thinks Iím not looking

while Iím waiting for the girl

with braces on her teeth

to finish making my sandwich

Iím getting the classic combo

with ham and turkey and

roast beef and

she doesnít know Paul Newman

she says

the face on the salad dressing

reminds her of Maury

she says

you know

that guy with the talk show

I tell her


I know who he is

but thatís Paul Newman on the bottle

he was an actor

I tell her

but I guess sheís too young and

I start thinking of some of his movies

but Iím convinced

all the ones I come up with

sheís not going to know

then I say

what about Tom Cruise and

the Color of Money

but she just frowns at me and

shakes her pretty little head and

I realize

even that one was made

long before she was born



A Hundred Years From Now


a hundred years from now

it wonít matter

the way I feel tonight


youíre not here with me

and by then this house

could be nothing more

than a hole in the ground

and roads may not look the same


people will have flying machines

instead of cars and

a hundred years from now

how many more wars

how many babies crying

a hundred years from now

will people be dying from cancer

what will people be watching on TV

a hundred years from now

people might be living on the moon

gazing back at the earth

through huge glass domes and


by that time

there will be cities on Mars

every morning

people riding in spaceships

traversing the heavens

but, still, searching for love

a hundred years from now

Iíll be gone

and no one will remember my name



Watching the Movie Sylvia


itís about the poet Sylvia Plath

and when she met her husband

the poet Ted Hughes

and the relationship they had

it stars Gwyneth Paltrow

and I really like her

I think

sheís an attractive woman

and I remember

when I started reading Sylviaís poetry

years ago

looking at pictures of her

I found in books

and I guess

I developed this crush on her

this woman who killed herself

three years before I was born

and then

when I was watching the movie

it felt strange seeing Gwyneth

who was playing Sylvia

these two women merged into

the same woman on the screen

does this sound crazy to you

I know

I know

and thereís this one scene

near the end of the film

I keep thinking about

after Sylvia and Ted

have made love on the couch

and he tells her

heís not coming back to her


his girlfriendís pregnant

and then itís just Gwyneth/Sylvia

sitting naked on the couch

her legs pulled up under her and

I stopped the movie

hit rewind

so I could look at it again

but I want to go back

and watch the whole movie again

some time soon

catch some of the things

I missed the first time around


pause that scene again

with Gwyneth naked


Sylvia sitting there

so vulnerable

so alone



Something Else


after sheíd been gone for a few months

I started trying to piece things back together

but the pieces no longer seemed to fit each other

the way they had before

so I figured it was too late

and I would have to try something else

I pulled a beer from the fridge

before twisting off the cap

and tossing it toward the wastebasket

it tumbled through the air

and hit the edge of the container

it seemed to just teeter there

on the brink of going in

but only for a second

before falling on to the floor

I took a drink of beer

then went over and picked up the cap

and threw it in the wastebasket

with more force than was necessary

before taking my beer

with me into the living room

and staring out the window

at something that wasnít there



All the Poems Ran Away


they just left one day

without telling me goodbye

I woke up in the morning

and knew something was wrong

an eerie silence permeated the room

the fractured light broken on the floor

I scrambled out of bed

and rushed into the hall

where a quiet desperation

lingered in the air

I started going from room to room

searching the darkest corners for the poems

believing those were the kinds of places

where the poems would go to hide

but I only found a stray word or two

scattered on the floor

one discarded line wadded up

and thrown beneath the bed

but that was all there was

so I walked down the hall and stood

in the middle of the living room

and started screaming at the walls


I didnít know what else to do

the poems were gone

and I didnít know why

I just stood there alone

in the middle of the room

the sound of my heart

beating in my ears



Black Cow


The burnt log in the ditch

looks like a black cow

lying on its side in the grass.

That makes me think about

the rock group Steely Dan


they have a song called Black Cow

from their 1977 album Aja.

Thatís, also, the album with

the song Deacon Blues

which is one of my personal favorites.

By the way,

in case you didnít know,

Steely Dan got their name from a dildo

in the book Naked Lunch

written by William S. Burroughs

back in the 1950s.

A black cow is a kind of drink

and Iíve never had one before

but when I look it up on the internet

I know itís not something I would enjoy.

Iím mostly just a beer guy.


every now and then,

I might drink some red wine

but I usually stick with beer.

I like it in bottles instead of cans.

I like putting the bottles

in the freezer for several minutes

or inside a cooler buried under ice.

So cold

it makes your hands ache

when you reach in there

after a little while

and pull out the next bottle.






My Girlfriend Gave Me This Shirt-Published in, Another Beautiful Night 2010

 The Time and Temperature Lady-Published by, Waterways 2007

                                                       Published in, Another Beautiful Night 2010

 Before The Shootings-Published by, My Favorite Bullet 2005

                                    Published in, Disturbing the Light 2013

 Tonight Iím Drinking Trying to Forget You-Published by, Red Fez 2011

                                                                        Published in, Disturbing the Light 2013

 Things That Arenít Important Happen All the Time-Published by, Chiron Review 2009

Published in, Disturbing the Light 2013

 A Hundred Years From Now-Published in, The Weight of Invisible Things 2013

 Watching the Movie Sylvia-Published in, The Weight of Invisible Things 2013



4 - Afterword

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We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

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