Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James

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By Lynette G. Esposito

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James reads like notes to a friend.  The sixty-four pages of poems are vignette paragraph stanzas that reveal an analytical mind parading images across the page for the reader to interpret.

Divided into five sections, the tome, published by Blue Horse Press of Redondo, California, covers cross dressing, body types and other observations with dry sardonic wit that pokes at traditional conventions and judgments.  On page one, My Wife’s Shoes reveals that the narrator’s wife and he can interchange their foot wear.  The poem opens with:  Thankfully, my feet are small or hers are large….  The narrator observes that his wife looks like a British banker in my wingtips and he says I clean room after room in her flats.   The image of reversing roles is successfully captured in the trading back and forth with the seemingly genderless use of the shoes while their original gender intention is kept in tact.

When one looks at the poem, Wonderland on page seventeen, James explores the metaphor of Alice and the proverbial rabbit hole.  Within the seven- line one-stanza poem, the narrator of the poem suggests some rabbit holes are meant to be covered. If all is uncovered, the poem suggests it will be no more magic than the average garbage man out there collecting his stars.  The paradox of revealing kills the magic. In Grace Jones on page nineteen, a similar theme is presented. The poem says, Smile at all the secrets you wish to possess.

James takes presumed ideas such as the association with balloons and children to present a fresh perspective.  In his poem Frank the Balloon Man on page thirty-nine, Frank loves balloons but children, not so much.
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                                Honestly, he hated children.  Hated their laughs and the miniature
                                gaps of their smiles. Hated the clutching need of their fingers.
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What Frank loved, which begins the second stanza, was balloons.
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                                What he loved were the balloons. The feel of each on his
                                 hands, on his fingers.  He loved the squeaks as he twisted
                                 shapes into intentions.
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James has successfully presented a clear understanding of the old concept of judging a book by its cover. To see Frank with the balloons, one would assume the adult was working with them to please children.  The assumption here is proven false.

James accomplishes the views of what is and what is not through his many poems that perceive the world in a realistic way.  Why should Frank love children because he loved balloons?  Why can’t a husband raid his wife’s shoe closet?

On page sixty-three, That Last Ferryman, suggests the boat ride on the river of forgetfulness.  He begins the poem:
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                                  The Ferryman’s patience is as endless as his river.
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After the narrator states the rules of the ferry, he ends the poem:
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                                   And you certainly must not look back and wave at those disappearing
                                   on the shore while shouting, “See you soon!”
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The narrator has a suggested image of crossing from one life plane to another and what it is like in a way most readers can visualize and appreciate. James successfully presents poems in a clear direct form that encourages the reader to contemplate the subtleties that lie beneath the images.  The book is a good read and worthy of reading more than once.
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You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Drawbridges-Technicolor-Mike-James/dp/0578465817

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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.

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