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Posts Tagged ‘James Toupin’

The Student Wars

October 8, 2010 2 comments

by James Toupin

Were we playing? Spring opened
with the softness of the lotus.
Our politics emerged outdoors.

That year fate, enrolling soldiers
as numbers from a barrel, at last
spoke frankly. For those made fortunate,

death was launched elsewhere, at others,
and all the more must be opposed.
Someone said we ought to close

the road. Surely it carried convoys.
Our riot wound its way through groves
to mill out on the thoroughfare.

I maintained the periphery.
The megaphone came as called. The girl
whose glances were to me more vital

than war or peace, having come
with someone else, was carted off.
Talking taoism, she had not noticed

the line of cops begin to move.
A flashing cruiser, screeching, chased
me ring around a tree until

its spinout made space for me to run.
Such was our battle. Backpage news.
No trouble. A wisp of April risk.


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James Toupin is a retired lawyer living in Washington, DC. His poems have appeared in the last couple of years in numerous print and online journals, including Loch Raven Review, The Guardian Poetry Workshop, Infinity’s Kitchen, Flutter, Umbrella, Four and Twenty, The Centrifugal Eye and Bumbershoot.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

How Time Does Things With Words

January 2, 2010 2 comments

by James Toupin

Time speaks in tongues.
In echoing castles they built
to subdue themselves, the Saxons heard
the conqueror’s “ask,” rightly,
as “demand.” So many griefs
the language wants to tell…

Lost in the words.
Our burning, lightless, encroaches.
Now that we menace them
more than they do us,
jungles recede to forests
making and made by their rain.

Senses drain through a sieve.
“Alternative” each day
loses ground, its ending
so fallen you can no longer
tell a choice of options
from every other one.

The true name never spoken,
the book shifts back and forth —
“Jehovah” or “Elohim,”
“El Shaddai” or “Adonai,”
our Father, our King —
until the Eternal is silence.

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James Toupin is a government lawyer who lives in Washington.

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

From Genesis Rabbah

October 12, 2009 2 comments

by James Toupin

Across the centuries,
you hear the Catskills cadence —
Thus Rab Ezekiel,
as his son, Rabbi Judah,
recounted: “Why shall we bless
the name of God for giving
us each drop of rain?”
One. Two. Three.
Four. The pause that strums
the crowd. “Because it could
be coming down in sheets.”

Of course, rabbinic texts
do not record a rim shot,
and maybe the son forgot
his father’s way with a set-up
(sons can have tin ears),
yet like a great joke straddling
the ambiguities
the sage’s punch line sits
poised between two stools,
the one a blasphemy,
giving thanks for the absence
of God as Father of Floods,
the other sublime madness,
attempting a prayer
for each drop as it falls.

And of what would the prayer
consist? “Blessed art thou,
O Lord our God, Ruler
of the Universe,
who laughs, just this once, with us.”

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James Toupin is a government lawyer who lives in Washington. He writes, “Maybe because, as your call for submissions points out, legal instruments are by definition words of power, your theme treads on ground my poetry seems to go over and over. However, it ventures onto that ground mostly in a religious vein, reflecting a mixed Jewish and Christian heritage.”

Categories: Words of Power Tags: