The Barman is the keeper of lost objects: a forgotten hoodie, a wallet full of cash, the strophes sung out in pain and despair, the beautiful moments that a rich life allows you to have and forget. Those lost objects that aren’t returned to their owners or donated to Goodwill find themselves here in these poems. A fiddler marvels over the birth of his child. A slaughterhouse fly sips condensation off a pint glass. John Henry’s father mourns the loss of his son. Saturn stops by for a visit. A love poem emerges on the back of a to-do list. In his third poetry collection, James Jay stands behind his bar, watches, listens, and gives these objects, moments, and feelings resonance.
The Journeymen, a collection of poems from James Jay, is available from Gorsky Press. The poems in The Journeymen wander from the high desert of Arizona to the bars of Ireland; from the library at Columbia University to the classrooms of a juvenile detention center; from the streets of Los Angeles to a hike up Mars Hill to a lonely Greyhound highway all in search of the narratives that create the meaning in our increasingly fragmented lives. The women and men who inhabit these poems give a voice to the beautiful and flawed humans lingering on the periphery of contemporary society. Reading TheJourneymen is like lovingly stroking that scar you picked up in a forgotten life.
The Undercards are the fighters who box or wrestle before the main event, the guys who have to fight and prove themselves every night, all the while knowing that the money and the glory will rest on another man’s shoulders. As a poet, James Jay is a bit of an undercard himself: the kind of fighter who’ll never get a title shot, but who’ll slug it out night after night; taking a beating; warming up the crowd; giving up fame and fortune and ego; showing raw insight into the human condition.