Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Leaving the Garden

Afternoon Patchwork
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

Birds fled from me, and night invaded me with her powerful force.
                                                       —Pablo Neruda

Earthworms dug deeper when I walked by.
The storm changed course and went around me.
I was an earthquake with two legs, a nameless fear,
a death mask with a leering smile.
Dark. Stark. Dangerous.

Let me tell you a couple of things.
Not every dark cloud has a silver lining;
sometimes you just get rained on,
sometimes it is just another storm.
And those things that don't kill you?
Not all of them make you stronger.
Some things in this life can just shatter you,
rip out your soul, and leave you in its wake,
shriveled and suffering.

It happens.

Go ahead, bite the goddamn forbidden fruit.
Then glance down; you're naked.
Soon god will come looking for you, calling your name.
Be ashamed. Run. Hide. Cover yourself.
No matter what you do,
sooner or later we all leave the garden.

—James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

(The title is from a line in Pablo Neruda's
20 Love Poems.)

The monstrous factories thrive upon the markets of the war.
                                                         —Robert Duncan

Go to the time-clock and punch in; it is time to go
to work again. There is blood yet to spill and profit
yet to glean from the torn limbs and broken bodies.

We placed the children's souls on the assembly line,
soon they will be packaged up for marketing. Don't cry.
After all, there's plenty more where they came from.

Days and nights of blood. Shattered families. Horror.
There is profit in peace, too. (There is always profit,
no matter what.) But there is far more of it in war

and death. Sorrow will feed new cars to the wealthy.
Agony will put fat into the bank accounts. Load
the weapons, friend; death is writing a really big check.

—James Lee Jobe

(The title is a line from Robert Duncan's poem, 'Passages 26: The Soldiers.' )


He felt his brain floating in a vinegar sea.
                                   —Walter Pavlich

Waves of vinegar, pulled by the moon. Pulled
By hands beyond our ability to see.

The sound of whales singing far below the surface,
And from the white shore, the noise of gunfire,
Bullets like a bonfire, bullets like moonlight,
Bullets like wind.

Time is nothing. Driftwood. Empty shells.
The tide is coming in, and it is vinegar, not the sea.

Out on the breakers, a brain bobs up and down.
Somewhere, somehow, another one of us
Has just let go.

—James Lee Jobe

(The title is a line from Walter Pavlich's poem, 'Killing The Man Who Wanted To Die.’)

 Wedding Shoes

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento
torn ragged
tossed away
can be reborn
even as the ocean
transforms itself
each new morning

angel aqua
silver soft
from inside
Earth womb
water pours
most clean

is it blasphemy
to say
that Earth and

is it possible
for a regular woman
to understand?


—Ann Wehrman

the air glows and shimmers
hawks cry overhead
angry ravens chatter
within maroon-leafed oaks
and pines laced with frost
he sits in a dream
by the misty forest pool
his hand stirs its elements

a magnificent black stallion
gallops into his mind—
mounting, he rides
to the feet of his beloved
she takes her seat, leans back against him
and the world opens around them

they race on
then pull up, laughing
and come to a walk
beside the misty pool
under the trees
their horse’s breath steaming
in the fully-risen sun


—Ann Wehrman
I used to love walking outside
autumn turning leaves
burnt orange, red, brown
fallen decay, nature’s mulch
fragrant, rich dissolution

with our Weimaraner bitch
St. Barnabas, Barney,
I hiked from my parents’ warm house
frost-stiffened stalks crisscrossed
in harvested fields surrounding
our rented Victorian
though Dad worked a desk job in town

in a crevice between
soybean and cornfields
small pond, not yet frozen over
mud ruts around it
my boots mounted
carefully crossed
mud would wash off

stepping intuitively
gulping deep, clean cold
under sky lowering gray
finally trailed home
cheeks flushed red
that fierce joy, empty mind

naiveté in the face of constant
betrayal, their need to control, to break
my recognition compromised by
desire for survival
locked the words in my room
in my chest, in a tiny corner of memory
blacked them out
it might never have happened
but it did

decades later, my vision clears, yet also dims
today’s pre-dawn rain soaks russet, soft gold leaves
my feet still touch earth, stand as a mountain
yet even mountains crumble over time

 Crush Time (Leaf on Grapes)

—Ann Wehrman

Cold sets leaves aflame—
ripe olives smash under feet.
Relentless nightfall
pauses as gilt edges clouds.
November’s drama equals 
Sacramento’s summer heat.


—Ann Wehrman

tender breeze, mild midwinter
evening after rain
sun melts in scarlet
swirls at the horizon
above float voluminous, timeless
rose and gray-blue clouds
slowly drifting 
opening multiple dimensions
as your eyes widen, you grin
and your generous mind leaps
you utter the most provocative
comment at hand
a smile lights my heart
like the crimson sun
slipping slowly into night

 Neon Tree

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA

Having drawn the curtains against the glaze
We scumbled down a spiral staircase
Flanked by nudes descending two abreast
Younger than we ever were


—Robert Lee Haycock

Mother follows us
Through doors we can not close
Chiding us for empty plates
And the young ones are too apt
To blame us for a world
We had little hand in making


—Robert Lee Haycock

Crowd me ‘round, you too, too many ghosts
In this last deepening of the dark
And kiss my eyes beneath a golden bough
As I light candles for you in my heart


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robert Lee Haycock

The second time she's blossomed in one year, our quince. It's quite a queer oqurence.


—Medusa, with many thanks for today’s fine poems from James Lee Jobe, Ann Wehrman, and Robert Lee Haycock, and for Katy Brown’s beautiful photos!