A Pantoum of Wager

God said to Satan: Have you seen my servant Job, a man who fears God and shuns evil.
Satan replied: You’ve bought him with blessings. Take them away and he’ll spit in your eye.
God said to Satan: OK, I’ll take that bet. He’s yours. Have at him. We’ll see.
—the story of Job, The Bible

A wager of God’s shall we ponder
—threads baroque as spider’s web,
an hourglass of supreme torture—
the serpentine suffering of Job!

Threads baroque as spider’s web,
celestial grant of Satanic torment!
The serpentine suffering of Job!
Who fathoms the rune of Job’s lament?

Celestial grant of Satanic torment!
“Who is this that darkeneth counsel …?”
Who fathoms the rune of Job’s lament?
Where was Job when God made the land?

“Who is this that darkeneth counsel …?”
An hourglass of supreme torture!
Where was Job when God made the land?
A wager of God’s, shall we ponder?



Shadow Fish

Below the falls white furl,
a silvered shadow trout;
where water turns to silk,
a blade of hope and doubt.

Faint smell of elder bloom
piquant upon the air.
The sun an alter bread.
The trout, my silent prayer.

How like the empty cross,
the ghostlike silver trout
—a shadow hanging there—
a prayer, a hope, a doubt.

The silvered shadow trout,
a blade of hope and doubt.



Leland James is the author of six poetry collections, four children’s books in verse, and a book on creative writing and poetry craft. He has published over 300 poems worldwide, including The Lyric, Rattle, London Magazine, The London Reader, The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New Millennium Writings, The American Poetry Review, Acumen, Carillon Magazine, The Dawntreader, The Haiku Quarterly, Taj Mahal Review, The Society of Classical Poets, The American Cowboy, and The Ekphrastic Review, and many others. Leland was the winner of The Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, the Writer’s Forum Short Poem contest, the Portland Pen Poetry Contest, and was a winner of a Atlanta Review International Publication Prize. Leland’s newest collection, Rollercoaster Moons, is published by Little Red Tree Publishing, both in the US and UK. www.lelandjamespoet.com & https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/leland-james

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to mbryant@classicalpoets.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

One Response

  1. Jared Carter

    Applause especially for the haunting lyricism of “Shadow Fish.” One is reminded of the “little silver trout” in Yeats’s “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.