New Poems:

A reading of new work and poems from Unusually Grand Ideas at the 2023 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

As We Look for Owls, My Daughter Asks About Depression,” published in Adroit.

Honeymoon,” published in The Florida Review.

The Patron Saint of Traffic Lights,” published in The Sun.

The Patron Saint of Airport Sparrows,” published in The Sun.

“The Patron Saint of Capsaicin,” published in Image.

The Patron Saint of Heat Waves,” reprinted on Verse Daily (originally published in Presence).

Sentimental Hogwash” appeared as part of Rattle’s Poets Respond series on Dec. 20, 2022.

Like the Swift Flight,” published in The Southern Review and reprinted by the Academy of American Poets.

Poems from Unusually Grand Ideas:

Depression in Saint-Meloir-des-Ondes” appeared in the Sugar House Review and was the featured poem on Poetry Daily on October 13, 2022.

“Ed Smith” won the 2016 Cecil Hemley Memorial Award from Poetry Society of America, selected by judge Laura Kasischke. The poem may be found at the Poetry Society of America site.

Hot Sex,” published in Vox Populi.
The Mending Wall” appeared in the February 2021 issue of Plume.
Two poems, “Fish Rain” and “A Work in Progress,” appeared in Quarterly West.
Red in Tooth and Claw” won the Rattle Reader’s Choice Award in 2019.
Moonflowers,” published in 32 Poems and reprinted in American Life in Poetry.
At Mercier Orchards,” on Guernica.
Ruby-Throated,” published by the Cincinnati Review.

Poems from Unquiet Things:

Fringe Tree,” published in The New Republic
Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage,” on Verse Daily.
A Culture,” published in Birmingham Poetry Review and reprinted on Verse Daily.
A Lasting Sickness,” published in The Missouri Review
Two Angels,” published in Birmingham Poetry Review
After Basho” and “Basil,” published in StorySouth

Sample Poem:


Out running one morning in early October, at the top of a hill,
I found myself ten feet from an owl perched on a fencepost.

In its beak, a thick cord of taut tissue still attached to the squirrel,
which twitched beneath the talons until the owl, seeing me, dropped it—

and we stood, staring at each other through the cold, barely lit air.
I have told this so many times, but no one, I understand, will understand

the original rapture (yes, I’ll use that word) of that moment.
Do we report stories like these—my mother calling me

to say she and my father saw a white (“not an albino!
It had brown eyes”) deer in their yard; or Chelsea, almost breathless,

keys still in her hand, describing the sprinting shadow of the coyote
she may or may not have seen but is pretty sure she had

near the train tracks less than a mile from our house—
do we report them because they are stand-ins, almost,

for grace? And what cynicism keeps me from saying
that we do so because we love, and are surprised by, the world?

“The Reddened Flower, the Erotic Bird” first appeared in New England Review


James Davis May