James J. Roberts

Watering cans
stand spout to spout
ready to pour their water out
on zinnias that shout colors out
at sun and sky and clouds,
clouds that wreak of rain, no doubt,
but refuse to let it out
to quench the draught
that wipes my little garden out.

Oh, those watering cans so idly sit
and they so slyly pout,
lazily standing spout to spout
waiting to be hoisted and poured out
across the yard of wilting blooms
that dot the garden path where looms
not a single first bloom...or a last
unless you count the summer past.

The roses bloom their troubled best
as chickadees feather-up their nests,
but birds and blooms
and parched brown earth
all feel the dirth
of drenching rain
to quench their thirst
So, I sigh, take off my shirt,
and lift the cans, with less than mirth
that, thank God, now contain
the nearest thing there is to rain
(water from a kitchen drain)
and pour them out
one by one with careful pain
parsing water there - then here
...then here and there - again.

But when I finish this kind chore
the flowers quietly ask for more.
So, dutifully I obey
until they are sated
at the end of day.
But when at last I stop and sit;
pleased, proud and tired of watering it
and sip my summer tea
then...just then a gentle rain
begins to fall on my garden
path and rocks and wall
and on every bloom and bush
...and me.


The Bicycle

leant against a weathered fence at night
its copper basket
     tired and cracked
from wear and tear
     and worse - neglect
its frame remembers...

     summer jaunts on dusty island roads
     through grassy fields
     of dandelions and daisies
     abuzz with weeds and bees and hot
     baguettes and summer wine
     ants crawling on the cheese
     and laughter in the breeze
     a glance, a kiss
     a sigh
     helloes - goodbyes
     scrapped knees and tear stained eyes
     summer nights and smiles
     June bug songs and fireflies
     peddling uphill - hard
     and coasting - coasting down

but now...quiet...quiet
leant against a weathered wooden rail at night
it languishes in spokes of sudden silence
and its stilled squeaky rusty wheels
composed of memories
desire nothing more
than one more
young and

The Newscasters' Chalice
James J. Roberts

Babbling throngs of them drink deep by day and night
eating Peace and Quiet with spoon and fork of odd delight
and giving back hearts of only ache and loss
and oh so anxious nights
where stars fall lost
to wary thoughts
and Beauty
bows to fear
until, at last
all is lost
and chaos
is all there is for all to hear.


Lily's First Birthday
James J. Roberts

Now that you're ONE, you can jump and run,
tickle and giggle and have all kinds of fun!
TWO, of course, is as good as ONE
...but don't do TWO -- 'til you've done ONE!

ONE is for climbing and knocking things over
for spilling your cereal and rolling in clover.
While TWO is for later...and thinking things over
before dumping your cereal or eating the clover!

ONE is the greatest and first of all birthdays
and I wish you, Lily, and your parents, too,
all of the fun of discovering all you can do
now that you're ONE...and heading for TWO!


Earth Light
James J. Roberts

Why too soon old...and too late wise?
Why so hard to fly and so easy, fall?
Why time goes one way
or two some days
or neither way at all
when sadness calls
and we are all
     WHO knows?

Why a father's hand
not always kindly lands
or why some lie,
yell battle cries,
or even if,
when they die,
they die
and are
all done
...or just begun?
     WHO knows?

Who was first to understand
the fear and greed
that rule our land
and rape our breed
are rotted seeds
in tired hands
that always
need and need
but cannot
     Who knows?

Who'll sees the Creed
of the wild tides of time
that reads,
"Only the real
-- lasts
and has
since time began."?
Who apprehends
the unwrit command
that Truth and Beauty...
must with Love
go hand-in-hand?
What blind eye sees?
What deaf ear hears
     Who knows?

Who'll comprehend and this?
Today's first-born, perhaps?
A death-bed widow in a final gasp?
One gathered there to mourn?
Or will it only be the final man
on earth to roam
who'll come to know,
at last
too late,
too late
came the knowing dawn,
with the time for doing -- past?


    Who knows? 



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Like a Glove!

Life's four fingered glove
fits well, indeed,
the fingers that it fits;
but, oh, so dreadfully
the ones left out of it.


Holy Ground
In Memoriam - 2006
James J. Roberts

The last leaf withers
and dies
much like the first
...but slowly.

Yet, in the end,
its race from life to death
and lowly ground
soon finds it placed
without a sound
beneath the sun
where it, too, will soon become
not first or last
or high or low
but...as all do...
the holy ground itself!

Leaves, long-lived or short
live just to form the dark dirt
of this not-so-sweet
but blessed earth
which grows its
seedlings all anew
on new morrows
unknown to me
unknown to you
as we fall, too;
for that is what this earth,
this holy ground,
of life and death, does do.

The last leaf withers
and dies
much like the first
      ...but slowly.
Yet, in its fall
and end
it once again


Oh, How Life Goes!
James J. Roberts

Oh, how life goes!
    a heartbeat here
    a heartbeat there
Before you know it
ten thousand
and then a million more
'til time itself
has closed its door
on desire
and hope
...and more.

Oh, how life goes!
   a want for this
   a want for that
And before you know it
ten thousand
and then a million more
'til desire itself desires
   no more
and want and need
and Life itself's
...no more.

Woodcutter's Lament
James J. Roberts

Morning snow
fire out and icy toes
wood gone
frozen clothes.

So by foot and sleigh I go
for pine and bark and oak
that I stacked long ago
as butterflies and bees
at play
harried fields of hay in May
that edged the rills
and valley ways
where I sweated
on hot spring days
in hopes of somehow someway
keeping one day at bay
the ice and wind
that came today.

Ah, if only hot with cold
could for once agree
to better balance
natural misery!

James J. Roberts

Give me FIRE and ICE,
a white-hot soul
that is not "nice"
to look upon
by lazy louts
who know not what
they are about
and who,
together or alone,
whine and pout
and gripe and groan
like tired crones.
Neither hot -- or cold,
they seem not water
and seem not stone
as I thunder by them
on horse's hooves
that flash and fly.
So electrified
with LIFE am I:
I neither live or die;
I, the reaching, feeling,
taking Thing
that is not owned
and in joy sings
-- possessionless
and owning all of Everything!

5-year-old Boy
Playing in Winter
James J. Roberts


...a blur


a blue glove

no...a mitten...
palm up in the snow
from a half inside-out pocket

boots churning

one laced...and pumping
one not...but keeping up
with red cheeks
and white teeth

sun lighting snow
and curls and crystal-irises

all bound together
in laughter

a disappearing


Hypochondriac's Retreat
James J. Roberts

Excuse me, friends,
but I'm goin' to bed
before I bend
to untimely ends
from nasal weepin'
an' lousy sleepin',
hot shirverin's
an' cold shakin's,
bad headachin's
an' feverin's
that never end!

So say "Goodevenin' "
dear, GOOD, friends
and, quick, be leavin',
before my eatens
appear again!
My stomach's heavin'
and unless you're leavin'
you'll soon be seein'
what I've been eatin'
once again.
So, goodnight, goodbye!
Please come again.


A Pirate's Life
James J. Roberts



drew his mighty sword

and vowed to King and Lord

to pillage and to plunder

the great and grand

"Down Under"

until he parted *all* asunder

(except, of course,

for lightening and thunder).


The Crown sent ships

and maiden lips

to divert him from this mission,

but he quipped

he'd sink their ships,

and give the maids commissions

and teach 'em NEW positions

that missionaries daren't teach

except in foreign missions!


As he aged

his rage blazed

'til he began to wonder

if all his pillaging and plunder

had made him any younger.

It was then he kissed

one sweet maid's lips

and later he undone her,

(which, she said, for her was even funner!).


Now, thank God, he's won 'er

and spends these lazy pirate days

not on his decks, but under,

where his sweet young maid

plays with his gay blade

and lifts his one-eyed patch

...but daren't to look under!

(Mr. Roberts, a member of the League of American Poets, is published in numerous print and electronic publications and is a frequent radio and television guest.  His poetry also appears in the soon to be released,  "Treasury of American Poetry - III", ISBN: 0-9743429-8-X.)

The author may be reached by agents or readers at:

 Write to James J, Roberts





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@ 2005, 2006
by James J. Roberts.

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by James J Roberts at  www.JamesJRoberts.com"