James Beach

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nonfiction and More


Set 1

My current crop of favorite poems.

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Roaming Aqueducts

Note: This was written several years ago, during my attendance of the hippie festival known as the “Rainbow Gathering”. Every summer, a group known as the Rainbow Family selects a national park site, and keeps it mum as long as possible. Then, they release, by word of mouth only, the location of that year’s gathering. It usually takes place in the summer months, with it’s peak at July 4th. At it’s peak, it can involve up to 20,000 humans.

The one I attended was in Lake Taos, New Mexico.

Every single line in this tale, occurred in real life. I wrote it in one sentence, as I was about to leave.

* * *

Hippies dressed down to take their morning unconstitutional. Instant commune – just add water. “Rings in our noses, not on our fingers,” said the blue-velvet cat in the sleek sweet witch hat. I wish I had…sun beating down like old-time religion, sacrificing skin to sky.

“Make a spiral,” said the blue velvet witch, “as we break our outmeal.” And the food was good. Way. And I felt old, and dirty and stupid, and loveless. And I wanted to forget it was a dream.

They danced around a fire no one else saw, and the dog was baffled. The old men with young bodies and faces scrunched by the dark side of hedonism, growth without structure leading to decay. He went to chop wood and found a silver spoon. “Get some good rings out of this.”

Down by the road, the traders banged drums and showed their wares and pipes. Gold? Cigarettes and candy bards, material addictions in this land of superfi – spirituality.

And the no-longer hairy Krishnas danced, bringing their message of salvation through redundance. And beautiful free birds tied strings without shoes; beaded and grasped by a happy, dirty toenail. And the camp filled with people who didn’t mind decent percussion while they waited for their dole. The ultimate welfare state dream of something good for nothing bad, but waiting.

The only dress that wouldn’t work here is a suit. I wish I had one, just for today. “Our brains are too small to comprehend the size of the universe.” Speak for yourself, I say silently, my vibe tuning into a chorus of rancorous thousands. And the nostril-enslaved wore their darkness on their face, a mask of a mask, a painted wound, exercised joy in the meaninglessness of everyone *else*.

And the hope was there. And there were wisps of great dreams, and at times, for brief flashes, it seemed…and so, it *was* – It seemed we could change the world, as easy as trading VW’s for BMW’s.

And I wished to be touched myself, to be revealed, and be loving with others now concealed in their painted shells; to break all the games, even with stupid ignorant fat shitty fucks called “them”.

And a dance became a drum, and a drum became a dream, as they revelled in the Dionysian excesstence of a wild, naked dance. And the mother stripped naked as her baby, screaming and dancing and naked, as the confused infant stared, and then settled in to suck. Painted breasts and natty dreads, a revolution make? Lonely in the streets, always go and preach to the already converted in the wildernest.

Her face was hidden in the hair. I couldn’t see if she was beautiful. My excuse? Soon, I get a haircut, so the world can worship my ugliqueness. She danced. They all danced. And the secret of life may be beyond words, not of the body, but of the face and hands.

His pale white penis was an afterthought, as he lay on grass groovin’ on what God gave us to see. Dogs screamed and fought, locked together in the canine version of post-fuck chatter. And the children gathered in the river, not just to sing, but also to ignore and be children. And he sat next to me at mealtime, and I had nothing to say.

But I would not join their stupid dance. It mattered what my matter mothers, its inventions and actions debts to be repaid in here, with no one to pay but me.


Another Brick in the Yellow Lung Road

I think that you’re a cigarette
Small, and bright, and warm
you shine
If I could taste you on my lips
And light you up
Every breath would give such tasty grit

You drift in the air around me
So seductively you curl

Hanging, suspended,
close enough to smell
a soft hand about to fall on my shoulder
and wash the tension from inside my chest

And if I looked inside your head, what burning architecture,
what lace cathedral
of shining embers and pure white ash

But I have to put you down
And not go back
Because you’ll kill me
until you run out

And I’ll wake up,
wondering where my breath went,
holding my arrhythmic heart,

And reach, gasping,
for another


Virus Vitae

Virus Vitae

Words spread from head to head
and feed us well,
we swell
With their importance bred.

We see are the dreams and feel the schemes
pour forth from open
hope and
Like to think we know what we mean

But the ideas live beyond us
And we live mostly for their tiny screams
they’re dreams
Only to be heard, only through us

Like our own souls birthed into flesh masks
nurtured by this universe
to dance and live and make it mean anything,

The thought shapes appear into our minds
struggling to shuck off the afterbirth
of old ideas,
yearning to motivate us, give us their power,
turn our wheels

And then they spread
from head to head
a bit of song, a pun once said,
living lives in our brain forests
giving hopeful milk to unknown fertile dark
we sit, drink, dance, sing, read, but above all
yearn for more juices to digest

As they trade us themselves
for the time we think about them,
so for that brief time
in us they live.

show us wonders and convince us to tell others
to be milked again,
and be changed by someone else’s fertile minds,
to someone else’s head.




When a child smiles
the world plays

When a woman smiles
the world loves

When an old mother smiles
the world rests warm in blankets soft,
stomachs full of cookies

When a baby smiles,
the world begins again.



This city grinds its teeeth
This city and it’s smiling jaws
of lipstick bloodstained red
and the dreamers it draws inside

It grinds its teeth with a sound
not unlike the payment of bills
the savvy scent of cash in hand
the hot sweet lust of a damn good job
and the bitter ashes of expensive taxes

That city ground it’s teeth down long ago
That city where I was
once a port, and now a hole
filled with what once had been
it’s teeth missing, stained, whiskey-yellow
and full of charm and character
now that the smile has no bite

My city has not yet been found.



My shirt is crusted over with meals of the past
and my dirty hands are clutching fro one more broken bone

I want a meal of light
But I can’t believe it could be served

It’s just as bitter as it seems
Can’t be surprised by a meal that never tries

grab my rusted spoon and scream,
“Nothing’s as good as it seems!”

My plates an empty hole,
eating my sarcasserole.

Dig in and don’t hold back
Spit on life ’till it attacks
Break through the good to find the bad
Stay satisfied with what I wish I had.

Humble pie, sour grapes, spilt milk and gutless chicken.
Swallow teeth and mud, and smile in the blood.



Dearly beloved

we are gathered here to fuck and die.
All us sisters and brothers
Our sins pure and man and woman made.

The page is plain.

Your rulers, you, have deceived you, your rulers.
It’s not who you are.
It’s not what you did.
It’s who you know.

In the Biblical sense.

What a friend we had in Jesus
nailed to some tree in Galilee
and bearing fruits of seedless fruits,
straits swum by straights seeking to birth before they drown,
dykes of bloody dykes with fingers stuck in each other,
to hold back
raging floods of damns,
the hole damn nation, a void dead,
floating, besotted, on some strange bedrock of hell
and high water.

But his story hasn’t ended.
The power of their need requires a place to hang our

Perhaps life and death are equal, but we’re on the winning side.
And we like it.

Nothing says it like flowers. Flowers are dead. Killed in the flush
of their bloom. Alive only to be given in death. In given, their purpose all
the more of life.

As our cells fuck, as give to each other to make more life. As we touch our
shells together, and know briefly, far beneath words, that there is someone else
outside. As we trade our breaths, beating on our necks, trading our tongues, exploring
the plumbing.

And a cross stands revealed, as but another canvas. Stroke and brush. And then it hangs about
our sweet pulsing necks, albatross or treasure.

Making both the sweeter, your gods, your terror, life and pleasure.

A way to hold it in.



He was big. And good-natured. And violent.
Big veins feeding his thick neck. His shoulders
sagged slightly, but not from weariness.
From years of leaning in and swinging hard.

He invited me onto his team,
for a game of pool. We talked between shots.
I played, fascinated. I made sure to
play just slightly better than him.

He said,
“How long’d it take to do that to your hair?”

I gave him the short story. Seven years. He
ran his hands over his cop’s haircut. He
was definitely no cop though. His hands
were weathered, callused, permanent dirty.
From decades of manual labor. Nice
slacks, shoes, and a hundred-dollar sweater.

“I could never do that,” he said. “That’s what’s
wrong with me.”


“It’s too easy to grab,
Your hair. In a fight.” He demonstrated.

“I always think about that,” he said, and
sighed. “I’m too paranoid.” He sipped his beer.
I didn’t think it necessarily
that. I wanted to know about him. His
childhood. His job. Was he just born, designed
to fight? (and others just to think? spin thoughts,
until they loom so fine they fade, or feed
back into themselves…but sometimes knitting
useful things…or fighting…)

I was wary.
To ask opens to action. Under walls.
Either hesitation, or opening
too deep. It might either reveal, or cause,
my fear. And show insulting weakness to
this open, violent stranger.

I wanted to look into his eyes. For
longer than the urban millisecond.
Only eyes can’t hide in skin. Soul windows.

We played more pool. I took aim. “You asshole!”
he bellowed, laughing. “We’re not stripes!” and
grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt. I knocked
the 8-ball in, but hit it twice and scratched.

We lost. No one was hurt.

We all shook hands good night. He said, “Be safe.”


Now that you’re dead

Now that you’re dead,

I don’t need to see your eyes
looking-glass remains of once a home for dreams
I throw stones

You still smile
change the subject
and light up.

As if the slow death of your lungs
could kill you quicker
As if the flame could warm you.

The less you feel, the less you hurt.

Your heart is gone
Your soul is gone
Your blood slowly replaced with crystals
suspended in solution

And your mind is screaming
As it beats itself against the cage

I can see it, sometimes, cutting through your clouded eyes.

Now that you’re dead
I don’t need to ever see your eyes