the first crow has arrived.
it's clear that the saucers aren't coming
to take us away after all. let's all let go
of the old humiliations and move on.
yes, the father was a raging alcoholic
and he never really loved the mother.
and yes, the child was wounded and scarred
at birth; this was intentional. we are all
perched on poles waiting for the crows
to come and peck at our flesh. it's a tough job,
and it doesn't pay well, but there is one perk;
pity and denial don't work anymore, so
now we all get to feel again. for many
of us, it is for the very first time.
—james lee jobe, davis, ca
perhaps you had been alone in a desert for a very long time.
days blurred into weeks, and weeks into years. decades
grew like tall saguaro cactus; they were your only shade
from the blinding sun of time. your life was endless sand.
and perhaps you had walked at night, and during the day
you hid yourself away. the moon and stars cooled your eyes
with a light like ice, a light like sweet dreams. the heat
of the day pulled you into the oven, into the empty void
of sleep. eventually you forgot how to dream. you lost
all desire. perhaps you moved through life this way, silent
and alone. your truth was never spoken, and you harmed
no one, and no one harmed you. yet you were empty.
perhaps you never touched another soul. not really.
later, the wind blew white sand over your bones,
and it was just as if you had never existed. at all.
—james lee jobe
you have a small non-speaking role in this film.
you are walking across a busy plaza, past stalls
where people sell things; fruit, vegetables, scarves,
crafts. like that. everyone is speaking spanish.
in the distance, festive music. as you walk,
you are carrying a heart in a lovely blue bowl.
the heart is bloody, and as the camera zooms in,
one can see that it is still beating. with each beat,
there is a small squirt of blood. the bowl is half full
of this blood. the sound of the beating gets louder
as the camera gets closer, until finally it booms
like a kettle drum, and drowns out the noise
of the plaza. the camera rises up to a close-up
of your face. you are smiling, at no point
in this film do we ever find out why. just past
your face, a small flock of pigeons takes flight.
—james lee jobe
NOBLE DEFILER—A FRAGMENT
—Stuart Canton, Sacramento
To defile the page...The Page...that sits before you...it contains everything and nothing...All things may be upon it and so it is white with the magnitude of every color reflecting from it...Yet this is not anything or any one thing—it is an overwhelming everything...A glimpse of infinity opened upon a desk…in the silence of a library, a glimpse of a god’s back...a voice from the cheap paper tabernacle shouts and you drop your pen... “So you are the one who has come to defile the page...you have come with graphite, with composite fluids, with crushed stone; all to cover light with dark...do you dare to summon this darkness? upon the face of the infinite you pour this ink?...you, a cheap conjuror who invents tides and mountains and steppes…you fill them with a terrible shadow of life...you are a necromancer who has come to fill the world with your tawdry creations in a tired attempt to defy death before the eyes of infinity...you create these crude creations to spill on The Page...You who put your faith in the lasting strength of the pen,” and you quake…but there is a thing in you that won’t stop...there is ink in your blood and ink on your hands and there is only one way to get it out...out, out damn spot...who knew the old man had so many poems in him.
(first pub. in WTF)
PARA EL CANTINERO
With pick and hammer he broke
Ice like bones
Into glasses of liquor;
With his radius and ulna
Connected to the humerus tap-handle,
The liquid flows into a glass labeled craft.
His life was a dedication
To quality liquids poured down throats—
Now we pour drinks into him,
Screwing a handle into parietal and occipital:
A mug from a calavera
WHAT PRIMAL SANITIES
when I was a child, I found insects I thought weird
in the backyard, their inch-long, matte-black bodies, and red heads—
I found many, many under the rocks and garden,
and I took up a wooden rod my father had left in the yard: I
struck at them again, again in a strange glee fighting these things that crawled from the earth and
brought the rod down hard on one whose head separated cleanly from the thorax.
I stopped and stared at the perfect head, laying on the cement,
round, unharmed, looking like an optical illusion: like the rest of the insect was somehow
invisible, or submerged in the concrete-
before the blank, non-gaze of those dead, compound eyes