Five poems by J. M. Jordan

J. M. JORDAN recently began writing again after a twenty-year hiatus. He is a Georgia (US) native, a Virginia resident, and a homicide detective by profession. His poems have appeared in Arion: A Journal of Classics and the Humanities, The Chattahoochee Review, Chronicles, Image Journal, Louisiana Literature, The Potomac Review and elsewhere.  

The Golden Key


He grabs his phone, his notebook and his gun.

A  trumpet echoes in the distant woods.                                       

A body is sprawled in the broke-bulb alley.

The wolf somehow knows him by his name.

A mute crowd gathers down the block.

The forest all around him laughs and whispers.


The phone rings on a cluttered desk.

Watch  for an old blind beggar bearing gifts.                    

Rows of streetlights stretch in all directions.

The giant’s castle has a thousand rooms.

He puts a quiet finger to his lips.

The golden key turns slowly  in the lock.


He bangs the table in the tiny room.

The dragon crumbles in a cloud of smoke.

Technicians bag up items of intent.

The revelers at the feast all bow and vanish.

Sleep comes at last as daylight breaks.

The leaves all turn to birds and fly away.


These words once were music

lifting from the page

like a soft grey clutch of quail

drifting in a sudden movement of the matinal air.                              

But that was time-lost, time-gone,

before a white hand pressed                                                           

against the window of a train

leaving a town I thought would do me in. 

Now these words curl like ash,

disintegrate on contact or

slip through the haggard mind

with all the meaning of the wind at dusk

whistling through a rag

hung upon a crooked stick                                         

in a field where great dark birds

swap jokes and laugh under their wings.

How Dare the Damn Wind

How dare the damn wind

come banging down the block,

swinging schoolyard elbows

and kicking over trashcans.

How dare the damn rain

slick streets and slosh the awnings,

snuffing out the bright ambitions

of afternoon and smoke-breaks.

How dare the damn cold

blister windows, stick car doors,

chasing dice and fistfights

from the treachery of sidewalks.

How dare it dammit all

conspire to keep you elsewhere,

from your deep quotidian double

at the end of this derelict bar,

stranding me here with only

a cough and a broken hat

and a row of untenanted stools,

fit only to cuss and mutter,

How dare the damn wind.

The Midnight Squad

We have burnt out our various ends,

ground down otherwise hours as

the bright blank day descends

in culverts and ramshackle alleys.

We have turned from the quick and close,

from every normal circadian debt,

to a tangled pursuit of ghosts.

Remember us then to the world

in bright-blown prayers that track

the startled rounds of each new day.

Bless us, then, remand us back

to the custody of the unlit hours.

Lines on Leaving

Under the gentle sway of the backyard string-lights,

in this golden space hollowed out here in the darkness,

sit with me for a moment, sheltered from the night’s

relentless rumor, and the drone of distant voices.

The raw brightness has slipped at last from the sky

and with it all the day’s attendant noises,

leaving only the whippoorwill’s call and a train

as it rumbles deep and distant down in the chest.

So stay with me here and finish the last of the wine,

for soon enough, I must step off into the night’s

impossible embrace, so thank you for this golden moment

under the gentle sway of the backyard string-lights.