UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
JAMES BABBS

1983

I kept thinking he should have been there
when I graduated from high school
but my brother was killed the previous year
when he got drunk and
drove his car off the road
the week before final exams
at the end of my junior year and
suddenly
everybody wanted to treat me
like I was made out of glass
my homeroom teacher taking me aside
asking me if I felt okay and
was I ready to take my tests
I told him yes
without looking in his eyes
because I just wanted to
get them over with and
finish off the school year
so I didn't have to walk through
the halls anymore feeling like
everybody was staring at me
it was the same thing when those girls
showed up at the visitation
those same girls who never wanted
anything to do with me before
hugging me
with tears in their eyes and
I wonder what they would have done
if I had tried to kiss them
pressing their warm bodies against me
holding them a little too long
until they grew uncomfortable
trying to make them understand just how I felt


Until the light comes

it's not morning
until the light comes
bursting through the windows
screaming with silence
until I open my eyes
just another hangover
another hard-on
pressing against the sheets and
I was dreaming of bodies
mouths wide open
swallowing the darkness
one piece at a time
my hard-on
straining
lifting from my body
yearning for some kind of relief
but finding nothing and
the loneliness
leaning into me
the pain behind my eyes
begins to throb and
when I roll over
my hard-on
stabs at the mattress and
I give it a couple of thrusts
before giving it up and
start kicking off the sheets
the cool air touching my skin
my hard-on
fading and
I think I'm ready
to get out of bed


It Happens

I catch myself
thinking about her
and this is how it happens
this morning
after the storm has blown through
and I'm sitting here
eating my breakfast
the voices on the radio
coming from the next room
and through the window
I can see the sky
still looking
ominous and gray
and I wonder
if she's doing okay
and does she still
look beautiful
but I know she does
and I wonder
does she ever
think about me
and the rain starting to fall


Drinking Myself to Sleep

it's easier this way
not having to fight the whole night and
the first time I close my eyes
I watch you waving goodbye
driving past in your shiny black car
the taillights like two red eyes
staring at me for miles and
I hear music in my head
coming from somewhere outside and
the second time I close my eyes
you're just a voice on the telephone
turning to static in my ears
every time you start telling me something
the words get lost and
there's nothing good on the radio anymore
it's always the same old songs
played over and over again and
the last time
when I close my eyes
there's only the photograph of
what you should have looked like
the empty space in the bed
where you no longer were


You're In My Mind

saturday night
and I know it's getting late
but I want to keep drinking
I don't want to lose this drunkenness
I don't want to hear
your voice anymore
I don't want to feel you again
I keep thinking
maybe I can drink enough
until I don't feel anything at all
and I just want a few more hours
then maybe I can sleep
without dreaming
maybe I can wake up to
a whole new morning
and this time
this time you'll be gone


James Babb's recent poems have appeared in
his dreams and in Abbey, Barbaric Yawp, Decomp,
Hazmat Review and Main Street Rag.







2008 Underground Voices