3 Poems by James Schwartz

Brick/Mortar

I watched a documentary film on the rise & fall of Detroit,
& the automotive industry here.
I say here in Detroit because I
Stay here in the Motor City, 
On John R close to 7 Mile,
Everyday I hop on the #23,
Or #4 bus to head downtown 
To work,
Reading wisdom tagged,
On the crumbling brick walls,
Still standing in the winter winds...


I watched a brick masonry tutorial on YouTube,
& remembered, 
My Amish father was a mason for a period,
His brick & mortar also still standing.
Although he has departed,
From his earthly work,
Leaving behind,
Red bricks shaping,
An apartment building,
On Lafayette street,
Several hours southwest,
Of the barren cityscape,
Flashing before my eyes,
Here,
On the Hamilton bus... 



Rivers (sonnet)

Lay his hands upon my hardworking own.
Kiss my painted lips with a warrior's rue.
Entangled tongues, restless lungs, gasp, groan.
As mystery of history dawns true.
I loved him at first stare and first silence.
As mere minutes later he took me down.
Killing, filling with the sweetest violence.
Feeling the music though there was no sound.
Glazed eyes gazed amazed at praised flesh and bone.
Worshipful raptures wrapped in regal hush.
Going before God of Ganymedes' throne.
The rush of lust in spring forests lie lush.
In conquered land by embrace and in haste.
Revealed reveries and rivers to taste.


*EXCERPT from "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America" (Kindle, 2011)

Kalapana Meditation

"Only a Pompeii and a Herculaneum were needed at the foot of KÄ«lauea to make the story of the eruption immortal." 
- Mark Twain, "Roughing It"

We hike over the miles of moonlit lava rocks, to the base of the volcano, the glowing crater above us. What are the odds of a girl from Brazil, Australia, California and a queer ex-Amish poet gathering at the Kalapana lava flow?
Nambe sings a spiritual song about creation and giving thanks. Molten lava flows around and beneath us, bursting through rocks and spilling into the rainy night.
On the way back I fall, Pele kissing me as a "kumu" later tells me. I carry a scar beneath my eye today.
We get lost on the way back, wandering for hours over the onyx landscape. A flashlight beams at us suddenly.
"I'm Nate the Great from Wisconsin but at the moment I'm not so great - I'm lost."
Nate the Great from Wisconsin joins our caravan as does a couple whose cell phones guide us to the road, well after midnight.
Nambe holds my hand the entire way. Nate is reunited with his friends and we walk the road back together.

Back to the moments at the flow, huddled near the lava's warmth against the cold rain. Back to Nambe's song. Back to the fiery streams.
I sit by the girls, watching the embers glow. The moonlight is gone, with only the alchemy of Pele...


*EXCERPT from "Punatic" (Writing Knights Press, 2019) 


Bio: James Schwartz is a poem, slam performer and author of various poetry collections including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (Kindle, 2011), Punatic (Writing Knights Press, 2019) & most recently Motor City mix (Alien Buddha Press, 2022)

Literaryparty.blogspot.com @queeraspoetry

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