James McKean


James McKean writes both poetry and non-fiction. He’s published three books of poems, Headlong, Tree of Heaven, and We Are the Bus, and two books of essays, Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports, and Bound. His work has appeared in magazines and collections such as The Atlantic, Poetry, The Iowa Review, Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Best American Sports Writing 2003, and Basketball: Great Writing About America’s Game. His awards include the 1987 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writer Award, the 1994 Iowa Poetry Prize, the 2011 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize from Texas Review Press, and a Pushcart Prize. McKean lives in Edmonds, Washington, and teaches for the Queens University M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, and the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop.


Reasons to Plant Raspberries

To cover the bones of your fence. To placate the crows. For the cleaning up late fall, canes cut to the ground. To anchor spring each winter in the soil of your mind bedded down in short days and bad light. For your loss and if you don’t look back, for their willing return, the prickly canes every which way the sun warms them, a slow sketch, lines first then shaded in. For the bucket you wear around your neck. For both hands free to sweep the green aside. The thump of the morning’s first. For the ripe and near ripe—a tug and the easy difference. For what they bear and will bear beyond you. For your table. For the robins’ theft. For the two neighbor girls who ask and your watching them reach, year after year, into the leaves. For their growth spurts and hair tied back. For their chatter as if today has nothing to do with tomorrow.