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Three Poems By James Reynolds

Blood Diamonds

When it comes to comprehending numbers,

don’t listen to the poets –

if they understood basic math,

they wouldn’t be poets.

Listen to the accountants, instead.

A poet will sing how

13 is an unlucky number

(no feat of the imagination there).

She may even pull out her license

and irrationally rhyme

how some numbers are unethical.

As if ethics applies to math and money.

An accountant will cogently observe

(that no matter what 13 may be)

it is not a big number.

17 is bigger - though still not big.

27, 32, 50, and 59 are big

but no bigger than a modest PR problem.

13 does not make a synagogue a concentration camp.

Especially when 13 is actually 12

because the killer was 1.

The accountant will clarify

that 12 is much smaller than


The poet will protest:

billions is the sound of

outdoor concerts becoming killing fields

and classrooms becoming slaughterhouses.

Poets call those children and concertgoers

blood diamonds.

An accountant now concerned about the bottom line

will counter that “blood diamonds” is

a misleading and malicious metaphor

manufactured by malcontent poets

to cynically incite the sympathies of simpletons.

There hasn’t been a market for blood diamonds in years.

So children and concertgoers are not blood diamonds.

They aren’t even innocent bystanders –

because they were terrified,

when the shooting started,

and tried to runaway.

If you must name them,

the accountant will conclude that

the children and concertgoers were

coal ash or feathers

or other unavoidable byproducts

of businesses worth billions.

What, the accountant would like to know,

is a poem worth?

A Tiny Voice

Yes, of course,

we, too, care about

a neglected rose struggling to survive

among the scattered bricks

of a crumbling house,

but we’ve already done

all we can.


a child has a tiny voice

and no money –

hardly the sturdy platform

on which to make demands.

Yet here she stands

with her small voice,

empty pockets, and

accusing eyes,

while we continue to tell her

to trust the spider

who swears

he wouldn’t hurt a fly.


I lack imagination,

which is a problem

when you pretend

to be a poet.

But no matter

how hard I try

I cannot imagine

myself doing it.

Yet, some scientists say

there are limitless

parallel universes

and perhaps

in one of them

one of me

tackled the beast -

if only to spite

those multiples of me

sitting in stalled trains

on parallel tracks.

How I would love

to ask that reckless me:

how did I do it?

What happened next?

Did it make

a difference?


James Reynolds lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is a member of Valley Writers in Roanoke.  His work has been published in Ariel Chart and will also appear in upcoming editions of Scarlet Leaf Review and Lighten Up Online.

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