Cones and yellow tape and spindles of chicken wire;
stone-stack lines across a Northeast forest;
stockade and picket plastic shaped to look like lattice;
barrels and sandbags; minefields and doorbells;
the distance across or through salt and ache.
Some strings detached. A tickle gone bad.
Handhold between rock and water,
edges of each only matter
if they meet. Pangaea pulled apart, starting
space as a means of self-protection.
The moment ecstasy collides with trauma:
a fibrous twitch; a gnaw at sinew;
anger that shards reason, wants more broken things,
even reason’s availability, knocking, calling out,
begging loud enough for the neighbors to hear,
punch, knife, the slim threads between a lung and ribcage
released: unblurred like tide from shore.
James Ducat’s work has appeared in CutBank, Apogee, Spoon River Poetry Review, Word Riot, and others. Workshops include the Tin House Writers Workshop (with Ada Limón and Matthew Dickman), and Napa Valley Writers Workshop (with DA Powell). James received his MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles and is associate professor of English at Riverside City College, where he co-advises MUSE, the literary magazine of RCC. He lives with his son and dog in a house painted pink.