Anxiety calls my name

I was hoping

anxiety would stay away

But lately he shouts my name

louder and louder each day

then he piled too much

for me to jump over or through

& I fell, fell & fell

looking around

i see

no one

to help me up

Dear God

please help me

I won for a few years

it was when I self-published my book

When Twilight Begins

poems flowed

i’d carry a notebook — poems flowed while walking

or sitting in a sports bar

or sitting on my apartment couch


more books published, maybe 2 a year

sold in bookstores —

waldenbooks, dalton booksellers,

barnes & noble, borders

books-a-million & gift shops

& college bookstores


i thought the winnings were mine forever

i thought the good times would never end

then in the mirror

my youth turned into

an aging face


i dated

and thought love would never end


i didn’t know that when races are won

one day

there’s not another win


letters from ladies slowed

my phone stopped ringing


no one brought

snacks and drinks to enjoy





(Jim Wortham, August 9, 2022)

Time, you are running so fast

time, you are speeding up

i am slowing, slowing, slowing // down

went to sleep after 5 am

yes, sleep problems nightly

thinking/worrying about

whatever floats through my mind

i make myself get up at 11:30 am

eat grapes

drink coffee


part of a book

i don’t look at emails

or text messages these days

not often, also

leave my cell phone off

don’t need to talk to anyone

these days

i miss the days when

i had friends & phone calls

today —

a day to be alone /

will go in my backyard

look at trees/ still green

(although autumn’s coming)

listen to birds

trying to figure what

birds are saying to each other

all is well in

my part of my world

i am

just tired

most days

time is moving on

faster than

i can keep up

i will have campbell’s tomato soup

and crackers tonight

will eat alone

i’ll light a red candle

and count the days


? ? ?

i, i, i

not sure what comes next


— Jim Wortham (August 8, 2020)

How I Got Rich

i saved all my coins

each day

in coffee cans


in 2008 & 2009 when

the great recession happened

I took all my cans of money

to a brokerage company

in louisville —-

the professional investment folks

working there that day

thought I wasn’t quite right —-

no one does something

like this they said

among themselves

in a bad market like this,

one lady who worked there

smiled & looked kindly at me

I over–heard the men investors say

this crazy guy just brought in a car load of

coffee cans from his pocket change

and he is going to invest it

in this down market

and lose every penny

of his savings

I asked the lovely investment lady

(i liked her smile, kindness & how she dressed)

to buy me

about $50 or more

of stocks selling for less than $1 a share

on the new york stock exchange

that she thought were good companies

(there were hundreds

or more well– known stocks

selling for less than $1 for one share)

I heard the men stock employees

say “this kid has no idea

what he is doing

he is going to lose everything”

i overheard them

and I said “hey buddies

I’m older than you

and i bought my first stock

when i was 14.”

(they thought I was joking

but i was telling the truth)

days later i received a letter

from the kind investment lady

telling what she

bought me


a few

years later

when most of the stocks

went up 10 to 20 times higher

(or more)

i bought my poetry shack

where i live & write from

totally in cash &

now i live a simple life

it’s like I’m living like a king

(but not a rich king)

and write


to make




& to my surprise

I’ve been lucky

enough for

4 books to be

recently published

can life get better

than this?


I received a letter today

from a reader of my books

from california

she said

“will you,


will you be my poetry man?”

Dancing with Depression


you are welcome

to hang out


during the past

you only visited


It’s now like this —-

I lost my

parents, brother

& pets

I have a room

& an empty bed

for you

but feel free

to hang out

& we will

eat crackers

& pickled pig feet

& sardines with mustard

while listening

to old records

of the blues

I’m glad

I have someone

to talk to






—– Jim Wortham, August 1, 2022

Back to Dust

The days


too fast now

my body

is resisting


falling asleep at 2, 3, 4

sometimes it’s 5:30 a.m.

I get up

at noon

no desire to eat

I eat things from

like tuna, sardines

pickled eggs

& pickled pig feet

& dollar store crackers

& candy

I leave

my cabin

to get

mail like

food coupons

& walmart ads


I have no energy

my body







—-Jim Wortham July 30, 2022

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