THE FACE OF YOUR GARDEN
—James Lee Jobe, Davis
The sun rises with a look of kindness,
and you wake me with three kisses.
The first is the kiss of the morning dew, light, sweet,
damp, and cool, your lips so young, tender, delicious.
Next is the kiss of total abandon, of passion at sunrise
while the rest of the young world still sleeps.
Your body is so warm, the very center of you
is moist and open, calling me home.
And finally, the kiss of death, my mortality defined by yours,
both of us reaching back for all we missed, hopes lost.
Three kisses, nurtured in the garden of your heart,
growing in the soil of our life together.
The face of your garden is your face,
(for William Lee Jobe)
—James Lee Jobe
Did I fail to show you
how God lives inside
Even the plain ones.
Especially the plain ones.
Did I fail to teach you
how frail are these
that hold us?
is each moment
we spend inside them?
Lightning can strike twice.
The earth itself can fail you,
right where you stand.
There is no such thing
as luck, good or bad.
I know you are a man now,
but be careful, my son,
please be careful.
Life can indeed
swallow us whole,
without so much
as a thought.
Without so much
as a glance.
THE LAND I CREATED FOR MY INSANITY TO DWELL IN
—James Lee Jobe
Look at this place I made
just for you!
Every morning the dawn is a gift,
just when you tire of the night.
A bold and painted sunrise,
a magpie signing in an oak.
Every day is full of music
and magic; God's love!
And when the day has been long enough,
the rich black night returns.
A night like velvet, like a panther, and the stars
are the medals for your uniform.
Here, the monkeys of your better nature are free,
and the trees where they play are endless and green.
Here, cows and chickens and ducks gather together
in prayer at the appointed times,
Here, the farm is alive with the blessings
of a kind and forgiving god.
or form a new country.
a Tower of Babel.
Then settle down with a good book
in a chair by the fire.
I have created this world for you
to live in!
all your own!
—James Lee Jobe
Sunrise, when I just couldn't bear
one more moment of darkness.
Hearing my mother, on into her eighties,
singing softly to herself, far off-key.
The day when I knew
that I would survive.
A fawn asleep, a cat at play,
long shadows late in the day.
Hearing my son, a man now, singing
a soft song with his guitar, lovingly.
The night that I leapt anyway,
though I could not see the bottom.
She is born! Of flesh She lives!
She suffers and loves, even as we do.
She lives in the face of a child,
born in grace as we all are.
She walks across this earth, this valley,
eased by the wind, in faith.
Sunset, when the day had worn me
to the bone, tired, beaten.
Hearing a choir take up a song of praise,
proudly singing the names of God.
When time no longer mattered, young or old,
I have lived this life indeed.
On the sunrise side of the island
long rays of dawn-light
color buoyant clouds
a soft hibiscus pink, orange.
While I am yet nestled in my dreams
you, awakened by the raucous call
and response of red junglefowl cocks,
go to gather plumeria blossoms.
In solitude you wander over landscape
manicured to perfection by immigrants,
approach each plumeria tree,
bypass the youthful buds and blooms
whose pungent odor perfumes the morning,
leave those fresh beauties to others.
Instead your eyes select the fallen,
scattered around the green carpet at drip line
like clothing discarded in haste,
mature flowers whose throats are sunshine yellow,
petals edged in pink, a few tinged brown.
Each one radiates a subtle fragrance
diluted by time.
Collection complete, with mending kit
needle in hand, you carefully thread
each blossom into a wreath of surprise,
a lei of the fallen plumeria,
gift to me as I rise,
before we break fast,
taste Love's toast and tea.
—Sophia Smidth, Davis
The heavy, human, padded, plodding steps,
Musical and familiar,
Press in on the moist earth,
This immeasurably soft enormous ball,
From all directions
To mold a surface
Packed down and smooth
With the sheen wear and weight.
But the one o’clock wind
And later pushes down bit after bit of water
Wherever it pleases
To disturb the predictable placidity
Of formed trailways.
Feet are awakening to the smell of wet earth,
Disheveled with or without the permission
Of those who call it their own
And care to notice when it’s
Sloppy and uncontained,
Before the ball of a foot rolls again.
Gather for Fire
On dirty knees
And pieced pine trees
We crouch to touch
The flicks of warmth
Because we gather for fire.
Shins face the rest
To greet this speech
With open hands
To which we pressed
The warmth of touch
And endless breath
That fiercely burns the hours.
We know the taste
Of salt and cells
And heal our cuts
With time alone
Rejoice at dusk
And cheer for dawn
Because we gather for fire.
(in the style of William Butler Yeats)
—Andrew Chiang, Davis
I can smell dewy mists as they pass by me,
And the caress of cloud tendrils as I soar along.
I can hear the whistle of air flying free,
And resounding in my bones its wild, unbarred song.
And when the grey frown full of anger, arrives
Upon clouds I will see a young storm arise.
I will hear keenly and up close from where thunder derives
As swift lightning strikes forth, cutting proud men down to size.
Resulting from storming, and raining, and morning will come
Warmth bitter remembering the darkness before
Climbing light, shining bright, warming what was once numb
And I will stretch my wings out and fly on forever more.
A TRAIL OF LEAVES
—Andrew Chiang (in the style of Yeats)
There was a trail of leaves that flew down the river bend
A wagging wiggling tail of greens that came from who knows where.
That weaved its way through rocks and deer legs from river’s end to end
Until it reached a hidden cave, a shadowy secret lair.
Within that cave it shown so bright illuminating contours deep
A string of vibrant minty leaves, a scent of freshness in the dark
That awoke that hidden place from isolated lonely sleep
And gave upon it something special—a new life, a brilliant spark