Past Due Notices

Original price was: $15.00.Current price is: $12.50.

poems by

Mike James

Poetry book, 96 pages, $15 cover price

($12.50 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-354-2

Released: 2012


MJames_PxMike James

A native of South Carolina, Mike James has lived in Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Georgia where he now makes his home in the suburbs of Atlanta. His poetry has been widely published in magazines and newspapers throughout the country. His books of poetry include Not Here, All Those Goodbyes,Pennies From An Empty Jar, Nothing But Love andAlternate Endings. Since 2005, he and his wife, Diane, have run Yellow Pepper Press, a small poetry broadside press.

“Reading Mike James is the equivalent of “stopping to smell the flower.” (Some of the flowers are bitter.) He apprehends the beauty (and sadness) of this world, this life, and shares it with us. I read the poems of Past Due Notices one at a time, grateful, reach the end and turn back to the beginning and start again.”

–Michael Wurster


The poems of Mike James’s new collection, Past Due Notices: Poems, 1991-2011, reveal a subtle, lucid, and observant mind, one unafraid of direct statement and bare acuity. A confident, spare, often humorous, and always precise collection that inhabits the consciousness long after reading.

–William Wright,
author of Bledsoe and Night Field Anecdote

The Budget

my wife calls us
“involuntary vegetarians”

what she means is
these days
it is not steak
and lobster
but rice and salads

it is coffee
on the back porch
for dessert

it is playing cards
in the evening
and watching the stars
at night
to see how they
change in number

it is how things
lately are
in this vegetable world
that changes

with phone calls
and bill collectors
and sighs


Packing Day

three days after the funeral
all of your possessions
fit into four boxes

the acquisitions of seventy years
take less than an hour to pack

the cardboard boxes
we use are from the liquor store
three blocks away

each box bears the name
of some scotch
or bourbon

though i never saw you drink
i’m sure you must have
when you were younger

i’ve heard stories

each of the boxes
is slightly larger than
a breadbox

none of them are
very heavy

if we drove the boxes
around all day
and then all day tomorrow
they would never grow any bigger

our loss would remain
more vast than any highway
larger even than
the four chambers of the heart




during your “salad days”
as a journalist in chicago
you interviewed a whole family of mayors
then quit to homeschool your boys
well before that was the fashion

later, you opened a bookstore
where you sat at a corner desk
chain smoked and sweat
regardless of the weather

no trust funds protected you
against creditors

there was always, in your store,
the smell of cigarettes, old papers
and the popcorn you ate (with extra salt)
for lunch

you fixed the world’s
worst coffee
and gladly bragged about it

you joked
you were never a cook
even in a past life

were you widowed
or divorced?

where was your first

every year
there are fewer memories

every year
they grow less specific

your hoarse, stroked voice
the echo of an echo
within the ear

the long sold bookstore
now a pet shop
with a well-scrubbed smell

SKU: 978-1-59948-354-2 Category: Tag:


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