Wednesday, October 08, 2014

What I Meant To Say...

 On the Western Edge
—Photos by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

Across a lake of mud on a cardboard raft 
I search for my headstone among mannequins and marbles.

"I'm hurt.  I'm hurt.  I'm hurt."  The television will not leave off.    
At gunpoint the caretaker brings me out of the closet where I hide myself.

I was never supposed to be here. 
Du pain.  Du beurre.

She sleeps and I cup her breast in my hand.   
Venus is far too bright.


—Robert Lee Haycock

Out in the middle of the garlic fields 
Boutiques had sprung up filled with 
Things nobody could afford to buy 
I swear there was never a harbor 
Here when I was a child

The hotels were empty and the streets 
None of the clocks could agree on 
Just what time it was or why 
The moonshine flowed free 
And I was in trouble

Funicular trains ran all night long but 
They made you seasick so walking 
We found a shortcut over the hills 
Too many times we came upon 
Invisible cities in the dark

Down in the valley the people carried 
Water to the trees in cupped hands 
We tried to make a home there 
The abalones we planted 
Never seemed to thrive

Hibiscus, Strawberry Tree, Sycamore

—Robert Lee Haycock

The train never stopped here before
All these little houses following us
Across the hills all through the night
Around that bend is a familiar place
I've never been but down by the lake
You tie our horses to an electric fence
That doesn't belong there anymore
The light is coming and we mustn't
Go further on this branching trail then
Our bones will dance out of the ground


—Robert Lee Hackcock

Candies are strewn across purple table cloths with promises not to touch them yet
We sew our own eyelids shut singing old words to new melodies
We try not to laugh but there will be no more flowers
And for all that only the Dog star remains faithful

 Shall We Stroll?

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Killer, statutory rapist, craftsman of ambushes, and king
of traps who could chain even the slippery black-crowned
linchpin of death. Complex man, vital, ambitious,
leash-holder of ancient Greek wardheelers, master builder,
a Robert Moses of Corinth only a Frank Bidart
could do justice to…plotting moral filth and deviousness
deep inside your Augean stables, your punishment
is what taxes all your cunning, bankrupts your
ingenuity because it voids all ingenuity: you hoist
and heave that mother boulder every daybreak up Hell-Hill,
till it’s had all it can take and chases you, Indiana Jones,
downslope. You being you, each new day finds

a new scheme, a new invention timely as Poetry Daily
for heaving that load of stone up over the last crumbled
lip of ledge summit, just so it can tumble down unsplit
into the tombstone valley, then shudder to rest,
an Abu Simbel in the basement of useless accomplishments.
Yesterday, you wore a new groove across the previous day’s
rock-hefting groove, and for your trouble cut only rut.
Today, let your back and gluteus take the whole weight,
while with free fists you scrabble for the charcoal, saltpeter,
and flint just out of reach. You’re after

the last-chance blast that just might power the thing
up and over. One shot, like Captain Kirk battling
the scaly green alien. You, sir, are the Wile E. Coyote
of self-outwitters, feckless inventors with boxes from
Acme. But all this time, you’re getting paler than pale
ale, just rolling that ghost rock up those ever-sneering
crags and steeps and steppes. Did I mention that,
devil though you are, you are the patron saint
of the repetitive-motion-injured? Ponder that,
while you’re shoving that big lump up that last
carpal tunnel.

 I Can See Her Lying Back in Her Satin Dress

—James Lee Jobe, Davis

Her dog watched us,
Making sounds like an accordion.
The sky was an orange blanket,
Draped over the world,
Smelling like automobile exhaust.
Marijuana may have been involved.
I said something to her
That I wanted to sound hopeful,
But it didn't give the girl any hope at all.
No, I no longer remember her name,
But she liked to he move her head a lot
When she kissed, too much, in fact.
I was confused.
I tried to match the head movements,
And it became a weird head moving contest.
Later I kissed her somewhere else
And she moved her head then, too.
I know because I peeked.
I thought that this might deserve an unusual poem,
And forty years later, I tried to write it.


I KNOW WHY THE MOON CHANGES SHAPE. The moon is an interesting fellow. He is doing a dance for the amusement of the stars, to the music of cherries and death. You might touch this music and shape it like clay, like a dream, like a financial plan that you will abandon. The moon has lucid dreams in the daytime, wide awake, and sometimes peeks around the corners of the sunlight. Peekaboo. Look up and maybe you will see him in the air, far off. Breath this air. The music is playing, the moon is once again changing, the earth spins. The universe expands all of the time. Why? Because the universe hears the music, too. Cherries and death. Cherries and death.

—James Lee Jobe

 The Other Side of No Tomorrow

YOU ARE HOLDING THE FACE OF THE MOON IN YOUR HANDS. You are tracing the arc of her lips with your most gentle finger, your slightest touch is a caress. This is the church of faraway dreams, the temple of her private smile. This is the night with a breath of fresh snow. Your life is a trance, and that which you think of as your own soul is the wind, peacefully blowing a hole in the sky. She is the moon, and you cannot hold her for long, and being wise, and being quite kind, you let her go. Yes, she rises up to heaven, where she shines for you.

(in memory of Kenneth Patchen)

—James Lee Jobe


—James Lee Jobe

       (for John Jungerman 1921-2014)

Have I known sorrow and death? Of course.
This is, after all, a life. I am grateful
For death. Death reminds me
To live. Death touches every life,
And as we age, it touches us
More and more often. To live a long life
Is to bury many people that we love.
We are mortal, that is the curse
And the blessing, both. One
Travels with the other, like twins,
Not identical, but fraternal and close.
But listen, every pain increases
The next pleasure. You lose a loved one,
And love those who remain even more.
After the snow melts, there is Spring.
Life is not infinite, but love is.
The heart grows with need, if you let it,
If you find the strength to embrace the sorrow.
For although you cannot walk away
From the darkness, you can walk through it,
And come out on the other side.
For there is another side, every cave
Has its dragon and its treasure.
Wounds can heal, storms will pass.
The rough road can be smoothed.
In love, there is courage,
And in courage, love.
This is life, and this is free will.
What will you choose for yourself? 

 Up and Down

—James Lee Jobe

I could remove my own eyes
And slip them into your pocket,
To go wherever you go,
To be wherever you are.

Or would my tongue be better?

I could pray for the softness
Of your voice late at night,
When the storms pass
And I am reminded
Of how I love the tumult
That comes from being a human
In this fractured and storied world.

Prayer is a blessing in itself.

When you enter the ocean,
As perfect as a fish,
The salt water welcomes you
The way that I welcome you to my arms,
Perfect and complete and whole.

You are also as perfect as the ocean.

This is the story that we populate.
The beginning of our tale
Was written long ago
And the end hasn't been written at all.
We live this way, welded
To each other, entwined like rope.

This is the story of a long marriage.

I could die to make your funeral complete.
I could die to beat of my loyal heart.
I could die to embrace the sweetness of your grave.
I could die to laugh at your fruit trees and tomatoes.
I could die to sweep the sky of clouds and fear.
I could die for the warmth in your feminine soul.
I could die for the brown earth of your eyes.

But I choose to live, here,
For one lifetime,
With you.


Today's LittleNip:

—Robert Lee Haycock

My dreams are much
Too loud and full of smoke
Chinese opera and putty noses
Blood everywhere
But everyone brings gifts
Offering to help
Call the knacker's cart
If only I knew where I am


—Medusa, noting that the Cal. Poets in the Schools conference meeting at IONS Earthrise in Petaluma this weekend still has slots available. Visit for registration information and complete workshop descriptions or contact; better yet, just call Tina at 415-221-1401 to register.

 Waxing Waving