Journeyman’s Suitcase by Mike James

journey
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By Lynette G. Esposito
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In Journeyman’s Suitcase by Mike James, published by Luchador Press, clear questions and observations open a literary window of perspective and viewpoint. The fifty-two pages of this short tome are mostly one-stanza experiences that read like someone’s notebook as the writer interprets representative images into logical conclusions.
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For example, in the poem False Confessions on page three, James presents things that never happened in a one-stanza truncated sentence form.
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                   The time you panhandled for tattoos. The monthly
                   payments for transcendence.  All the famous people waived at or
                   had orgies with.  The time you found the burnt wreckage
                   of flaming shoes.  Childhood spent tossing pennies behind the
                   Red Dirt Cabaret.  The mother who worked as both a nun and a
                   stripper. The medical journal contribution about aspirin as a
                   cure for love sick penguins.  How you were the first o capitalize
                   and conjugate KAPOW.  That ability to translate any fairy
                   language into Yiddish.  The parakeets who sang duets while
                   you scrambled and re-scrambled the eggs from the plain white
                   chickens you raised. The prize-winning rooster from Borneo.
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The choices of the false confessions suggest bravado and humor as well as serving a good dose of how our memory works and what we are willing to confess to even if there is little truth in it.
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James uses this same tone and technique in the poem, She Could Have been a Seller of Indulgences on page twenty-one This poem shows a perception of time as it controls and/or influences one’s choices.  The poem is presented in a two–stanza format.
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                        It was never easy for her especially on Tuesdays, as we know
                        how Tuesdays are with their leftover promises from the start
                        from the start of the week and the day before.  It’s probably not enough
                        that every third day she wore a sun dress to keep the sun
                        interested and nearby.
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The reader is introduced to the she of the poem by what she wears and on what day. she wears it.  There is a certain tonal sorrow for this SHE as the unnamed person who seems to be holding on by the thread of a perhaps unneeded sun dress on a specific day of the week. The answer the narrator gives is to keep the sun near and interested. This is almost like a Don Quixote scene without windmills.  In its place is the sun.
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The second stanza gives details of her life and the dry chardonnay she shares at her dining room court with her nail technicians and everyone else.  It is like a short story without unnecessary details.
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In part two of this volume, the journey continues as James explores the everyday symbols that define everyday life. The image of a map is used in Too Far on page thirty-nine.
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                               A map keeps you from too far.
                               That’s a map’s job.
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                               The best map would reflect stars.
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This poem like so many of the poems in this book, suggest in a direct way the meaning, both literal and figurative, of everyday objects that guide us.
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James demonstrates his prowess in observing and analyzing poetically how the world works.  The book is a pleasure to read and quick paced.
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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