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James Penha

A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past twenty-five years in Indonesia.

A collection  of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales won the Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest. No Bones to Carry, the latest volume of Penha’s poetry, is available from New Sins Press 

He edits New Verse News, a website for current-events poetry.



James Penha's poem, "Lesson" can be found under the Appreciation category in the 2016 Origami Poems anthology The Best of Kindness available on Amazon.




Jack's Origami micro-chapbooks & selected poems are available below.

Origami Micro-chapbook

Selected Poem(s)

Stalking Celebrities


Audio Version
read by James Penha

{mooblock=Woody Allen, Alive and Well}

I trailed Woody Allen up Madison Avenue once.
Block after block, I slowed to his footsteps. He
talked with a woman oh
twice his height. Not Keaton,
nor Mia of course. They parted the waves.
In the wake, I watched millions
tilt their eyes and try to watch
with casualness
where they went.
Not one broke stride;
we yielded Woody his vector. But at the plane
of passage
all turned for the denouement
with their heads upon their shoulders
and quickly back to each other to ask,
rhetorically, “Do you know who that was?”
or to say who that was.
The sure
only smiled.
Others looked back.
This city was Woody’s.
I watched Woody and the woman
turn a block onto Fifth and into an apartment house.
It has taken me years to intrude with this, but
my sadness
makes me want to write
that Woody
lived with reverence.
James Penha © 2012




Cover is a mural detail
from the Pod Hotel NYC
(formerly Pickwick Arms)

{mooblock=Opening Lines}

Nina jumped
from a fifth-floor bath
of the Pickwick Arms Hotel.
I’m swaddled
in Nina’s unsteady
8 millimeter arms.
Later a splicing
machine made me
the family archivist
and my father’s
black and white movies
were read all over.
Nina’s sister Bertha--“Ah,
Nina and her grandson”
at the epic premiere.
I’ve no Grandma
Nina in my memory
but Nina on film.
James Penha © 2011


Sumtran Highways


Cover Photo by James Penha



We slip on jungle river stones back, rock
by rock, year by year, till we are
immersed in yesterdays swimming mightily
against the flow of time. We grasp
at corners of the past
in the crooks of ancient boulders and crawl
through eras to epochs and edens
where we are the first humans
rubbing our eyes to find
ourselves born to blue butterflies,
green mansions, and infinity falls
in cascading canyons pristine, primeval,
untouched until this singular moment
when we are aboriginal, indigenous.
James Penha © 2009


Lessons From The Archipelago


Cover Photo by James Penha

{mooblock=A Bali Dancer, A New World}

My mask
faces dead moons
breathing breasts
sun bursts
of language
when you stare silently
into the corner
terrified of your seeing
my geometry
I turn away
James Penha © 2010