top of page

Whose Life Is It, Anyway?

By D.R. James

PROMPT — Ask Me.

A dingy ladybug just slammed

into this split-ended web of grass

as if shot from an organic cannon

for a miniature net. Nonplussed,

she has seemed to decide

to climb to its frizzy top

and fling herself,

to no applause whatsoever,

toward the sharp tip of a taller,

naked shaft nearby—

there, to re-form and sway

in the slightest breeze.

I say she has seemed, because

I don’t know whose life it is,

anyway. It’s all about me,

of course: earlier,

I found myself atop

a mental mountain (you know,

surveying the lesser peaks?),

then flung myself for this poem,

fluttering into the snare

of choosing this or going with that

as if I determined all my decisions

all along the live-long day.

But I know me: soon enough

I’ll fold my wings

to re-form a spotted shell,

and it will seem I’ve decided

to head down that one long blade,

then, to no applause, up another.


Recently retired from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, D.R. James lives, writes, and cycles with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of ten collections is Mobius Trip (Dos Madres, 2021), and his work appears internationally in many print and online anthologies and journals.


bottom of page