D.R. James’s seven poetry collections includeIf god were gentle,Since Everything Is All I’ve Got, and the chapbooks Why War and Split-Level. Poems and prose appear in various print and online journals and anthologies, including Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford. James lives in Saugatuck, Michigan, and has been teaching writing, literature, and peace-making at Hope College for 33 years.
Pain, No Gain
range of motion &
energy transfer. Always
warm up; always
lengthen. If tight,
stop to stretch, rest,
the possibility of injury.
Wrong way or wrong
time tightens rather
than relaxes. The old
“bounce, bounce, bounces”
risk small tears &
are not recommended.
The stretch reflex responds
to voluntary movement:
the spindles initiating
their counter contraction;
the Golgi organ,
given twenty seconds,
relaxing the muscle
and its counter muscle
in response. Thus stretch
only to a slight pull, slight
the reflex, activate
the organ. Stretching
will differ per individual.
Stretching is not competitive.
Stretching should never involve pain.
—found text: with permission, Patti
and Warren Finke, Team Oregon
An Assembly of God
This church—now calm across its watered lawn—
whose congregants, kneeling or lining pews,
mutter, meditate, and meekly altar-fawn
before the bellied, brimstoning minister,
is never brief, always loud in offering song
each Sunday, every Wednesday, in the stir
of summer’s open-windowed air. They dote,
you’ll notice, upon his every whim, his stern
commands to trim the hedges, layer on coats
of driveway tar, repair the shutters, and
mow the manse’s grass like servile goats.
Even boys in bunches shovel gutter sand.
But look! A lacy little girl in shiny shoes
comes fluttering among the unsung mothers and,
still young, postpones payment of her fated dues.