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  • D. R. James

Beyond Compliance, Beyond Resistance

by D. R. James

When asked once who his greatest spiritual teacher

had been, the Dalai Lama responded, “China.”

The cat’s reactions to my fingers’

scratching, remind me I’m often

automatic: twitching skin of each

thank-you-very-much, arched back

of jockeying for a slender compliment,

submissive flop-and-grovel of every

please, please, please. But then

that prance of defiance across

invisible piano wire spanning

table to out-of-bounds countertop

to stove controls, my dainty paws,

claws approximately withdrawn,

picking out the touch-pad tune of

bake, broil, clean, clock, and cancel.

Lately I’ve been working on my

up-and-walk-away, my saunter

and dusty-sandal forefoot flick,

my vertical tail-like-a-flag of

nonchalance—which I plan to plant

somewhere pacifistic, somewhere

beyond this rage against my own Beijing.

—first published in If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017)

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