—Katy Brown, Davis
I don’t want to write about this because
even acknowledging it seems
like drawing a pirate map to it.
I have never looked inside the sealed box
—you know—the one I keep
in the back of my closet—on the floor,
under a pile of hiking boots and dirty clothes:
the black box that emits a growl from time to time.
Sometimes, if I lay very still at night,
I imagine I hear a faint whimper
from behind the closet door.
I’ve carried this box with me for as long as I remember,
from place to place,
noticing that it seems to get heavier;
though perhaps I am simply losing strength.
It seems remarkably dense for a plain box.
I have never opened it. I want to believe it is empty,
but don’t know for sure that it is.
I lack the courage to force it open.
When my daughter was little, I put it
high on the shelf, behind my extra blankets—
where she couldn’t find it
and accidentally release . . .
I’m not sure what is.
All I know
is that it thrives on darkness and it growls.
—James Lee Jobe, Davis
I know these poems
are sometimes odd,
as often when I am writing them
a spirit invades me,
and writes with my hand
and uses my memories.
This spirit is my dark friend.
Many of these poems were written
by this dark friend, not by me.
At those times I retreat
to a nice corner of my soul
where I keep a comfortable chair
and a good reading lamp.
There I read poems from Ovid and Li Po,
Akhmatova and Mirabai,
from Rilke and Baudelaire,
for long hours,
sometimes all night!
when the spirit has gone,
I will come out of myself
to edit the poems
that are not exactly mine,
that were written by something
that is far more creative
than I could ever be.
I often have no idea
what those poems are saying,
but when I read the words out loud
I feel a warm glowing ball in my chest.
My heart feels beautiful and in this life
I stay very warm and blessed.
Warm and blessed.
HOW I WRITE THESE DAMN POEMS
—James Lee Jobe
I put some faith in the sounds of vowels,
In the strength and heart of consonants,
And in language that holds a small measure of music.
Truth? Sometimes. Not always.
There is a higher truth, with more weight than history.
I prefer verbs to adjectives, they're more fun.
And I need a little magic, from starlight,
Or sunrise, or from the sad look
That dogs give best.
And then I just write it down.