James Cagney
(a kind of wrestling into a jacket of water)

a kind of wrestling into a jacket of water
            (this… this…)

then stops, / cold. / my hands empty
of any point. the truth is I want to embrace

for the sake of embracing. this truth becomes hard
to reconcile when we confuse our thoughts

with the insistent orchid of our tongues.
your remote control of nipples

a needle threading us through hours.
i’m immobilized by the unique gravity of our

combined appetites. your crisp tongue teasing
my mouth like stick to cymbal. your temporary

tattoo of lipstick defines me. in our flesh
colored room, your laugh launches off the walls
like shattering bottles. any thing daring
to contain us will have to be rebuilt.

cranes grow erect to the wet dreams of architects.
            in the crumbling lobby of our building

the lone construction worker smiles
like a child high on cake. he says:

anything broken, whether bone or debris,
becomes a mineral forest beneath the hammock

of the sun. my heart quivering gelatin in your hands.
All praise the musk of stockings peeled after a humid rain.

James Cagney is a practicing poet and writer from Oakland, California. He has appeared as a featured artist at Miko Kuro’s Midnight Tea: Midnight In Mumbai, S.F. Litquake, and East Bay Beast-Crawl. His poems have been published in the journalsThe Barbershop Chronicles, Tandem, Eleven Eleven, and Ambush Review. James has taught poetry workshops at the San Francisco Public Library.