Shirts or Skins, a 2014 poetry chapbook by Jim Redmond

The Last Samurai

In the twilight of my militancy
I scratch my chin with a katana.

I fill a koi pond with tiny hungers.
I buy an orchard and let each mealy apple fall
fat among the thicket.

This is how I count the days.

I used to only use my right hand for death related tasks.

I used the other for exercises in self-restraint.

A lot still goes undone this way.

Even as a child I did not say I want
to whatever flashed its victuals in front of me.

I waited things out …
I did not say I am a child. I said there are 3,650 days
until I am a man.

I preened each callous.

I said, I was never a boy,
I was only for a short while an empty train station …
until 400 tons of freight screeching by.

My people called me

“I stare you down, I look you over
until you lower your eyes.”

There was a time that this meant acknowledgement,
a certain respect. Now, there’s a different kind
of stay an arm’s length away.

But I don’t care …

I still interrogate each bowl of rice brought before me.

Even flies keep their distance.
Or they used to.

I am always the last one to grow cold
and I grow coldest.



Back to Table of Contents

Jim Redmond is a true culprit of the Midwest. He says things like muskellunge. He sounds like a more contemplative DJ Assault. He secretly enjoys clearing brush. He recently graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan. He’s worked at a gas station, an animal research facility, and a bilingual church. He once helped build a barn, but he wasn’t as committed to the process as he should have been. He’s currently interning at an advertising agency. Some of his work has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, PANK, NANO Fiction, TYPO, Leveler, RHINO, The Pedestal Magazine, and Front Porch Journal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments (