MY SECRET POWER
—James Lee Jobe, Davis
My power is this: in this life I am small,
but not small enough to be sacred or holy.
I live down low, under, beneath
the vision of the world.
You might not think that is much power at all,
but I wield it like an expert swordsman.
Watch as I slice one petal from the rose, just one,
and as it falls slowly to the stage you can hear the crowd gasp.
THE PRAYER BELL
—James Lee Jobe
What do I pray for?
Peace and plenty.
I pray that kindness
shall move among us.
And to whom do I pray?
That which lights up the stars.
I cover my head
I place my bare feet
on god's good earth.
When the prayer bell sounds
I will be ready.
YES, THIS SEAT IS TAKEN
—James Lee Jobe
Waking up from a thick sleep, I see
that I am a passenger on a ghost train.
For long hours through the night we rattle along rails
long unused, but we never stop at any stations.
Along the aisle, little ghost children play; the same
as living children, they are tired of being penned up.
In the dining car, fashionable ghosts are sitting down
for dinner, served by ghost waiters in white waistcoats.
A ghost porter hurries by, carrying empty suitcases
back to the sleeping car, which also is haunted.
We enter a long tunnel, and I look at the window;
the only reflection is me... then I fade away, too.
FEEDING THE PUPPY
—James Lee Jobe
The coffin has legs
and a curled, wagging tail.
It follows my sister, Dorothy,
wherever she goes.
Friend, she doesn't
go very far.
Methamphetamine all day
and vicodin or oxycontin all night.
Her mind is shot
and her liver is weak.
After decades like this, the coffin knows
that Dorothy could drop at any time.
The coffin is a little puppy dog,
and my sister is a morsel about to fall from the table.
if it takes all day.
A CONVERSATION ONE NIGHT
— Allison Ferrini, Davis
For centuries lovers have looked to the stars for romance
His story began, and who indeed can resist Ursula, Orion, Orpheus
And their stories of wanton passion and sacrifice
Love gained, love lost, undying and eternal?
We’ll be like them. I’ll love you ceaselessly
Don’t give me that shit, she said. I know how love ends
You’ll cheat, I’ll eat, we’ll both drink
We’ll live in a trailer in some dusty park, with a three-legged dog you felt sorry for
I see stars in your eyes! He cried. Your hair is a hieroglyph I am compelled to decipher! Love me back!
You’re being ridiculous, she said
Our story won’t end with us in the stars…together forever.
If I stay with you, you know what they’ll say about us when we’re gone?
Two kids got too caught up with fucking, lost their heads and got married, wasted away in this tiny town
They fought, and they cried, and one day they died
And the three-legged dog chased the beer truck out of town
we were lovers once lost
but only to find
that together we were secure and sound.
That was a fortnight ago,
and now it seems surreal
dreamlike for being so real.
And when our paths cross
the air feels like it used to,
tasting bitter and sweet
co-existing with life and death
unified into one,
we were two people but pertained to one soul
and the feelings never go.
Love is infinite.
These are my finer feelings
and I will always love you so,
but now we are in the same city but two worlds apart.
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
The wolves come out
only when the wind blows.
For the howl of the wind
is the howl of the wolf.
Parallel sounds ring out loud.
It’s a moan and a whine
All you hear is the whistle of the wind.
Wolf cry, covered but not lost.
A reason why:
a message to be sent away
because the wind will deliver it
to the other wolves who
dance in the wind
with spirits of ancestors
who only come out when the wind blows.
I was watching
they were mine
they were alive.
They crawled over my body
trying to shock me back to life.
I watched them
hurriedly and nervously
shaking with fear
they didn’t know if I was there
and they started to cry.
They grew tiresome
and so did I
and then when I looked again
I saw these hand,
they weren’t mine
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
think of an old man
white beard he fondles
fears the cold
wrapped in a blanket
wool cap shields his head
squats on the floor
trumped-up image of himself
fomenting terror, he thinks
narcissist some call him
CIA punk gone rogue
terrorist he might still be
it’s a question
sleeps in bed at 4 a.m.
like any man
assassins break in and kill him
assassins they call heroes
(say, we can break into any old place,
get rid of somebody, can’t we?)
his blood on the floor
wave the flag wait for the upshot
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
SONG OF LIBERTY STREET
war ends, oh say can you see
oh say, which war shall we sing about?
but say, there’s a ghost singing on Liberty Street
she’s smug and smart and 17
she wears a yellow autumn dress
she’s walking down Liberty Street
on a clear and sunny day
singing the unknown song of streets
only an old map can now sing you
song of Liberty Street
she still walks to her September job
sings all the way
from the Cortlandt Street ferry it rocks
on the Hudson chained to its dock
down the ghost of New York streets
to the old stone building at 1-3-6
sits red and squat and 4 stories high
on Liberty Street sing 1-3-6 Liberty Street
she types on a September day
song of Liberty street
1-3-6 torn down
made way for Twin Towers now smoke and rubble
the ghost still there she walks down Liberty Street
types all day sings her September song
in her yellow autumn dress
all fall down, say
another war begins, oh say
Love is the crocodile on the river of desire.
—Bhartrihari (c. 625)
—Medusa, with thanks to our contributors today, all of whom are from Davis—just a small smattering of all the talent over there. And apologies to Katy Brown and Bill Latimer for my having gotten their photo credits mixed up yesterday. Those are correct now... And go to jamesleejobe.wordpress.com for more from James Lee Jobe on his blog, "Putah Creek".