We could train a surgeon to slice away a man's soul.
To see what is left there. If he still lives. Or not.
As a man. A human being. His dogs without feet.
His table empty. His cows without nipples.
Night without day and day without night.
The operation is over. Someone else can keep watch.
The surgeon returns to his day clothes.
When he exits the building, a light rain has just begun.
* * *
The rain last night
so reminded me of a child.
At first, learning to walk
with timid steps, then
growing in strength
and running gleefully
across the wet yard.
My birds sleep in their warm, dry cages—
I am up late dreaming with the full moon.
* * *
A righteous soul, indeed—
to not seek satori, only service.
Father of mine, I am fifteen hundred miles from your grave, standing in a small stand of pines. It is a gray and misty day, and somewhere close by, a woodpecker is working. Cold feet, bird sounds, and a thought of you, sir. See? You are not forgotten.
* * *
The very poor have heartbeats, too. The sound is not the same as the heartbeats of the very wealthy. And what is that sound? The opposite of money. The opposite of comfort. To be very poor is to wear a mask out in the world. It is the mask that people see, not the person. And the wealthy ones and the comfortable ones go bare-faced out into the streets. They walk with a confidence that is alien to those in the masks. Crowds of masks part to make way for them to pass through. Be still for a moment— do you feel that? That is the hunger hanging in the air. The masks can do nothing about that.
The crickets hold forth at sunset—
Who can say if they are happy or sad?
* * *
If every passing year held a price in dollars
would you be ashamed to know the number?
Would you complain when the annual bill came due?
* * *
I can face the darkness. I can take being alone through endless time, and facing this immense universe. It's not that I am particularly strong; I'm not. But I have something to see me through. He was real. He was alive and real and had love in his heart. He was my son and I love him. And that is mine to keep.
That I might see myself for who I am, without listening to others tell me who I should be. That I might always be working to pare away the false layers of who I am not, layers that have built up over time. That I might find and remain truly myself.
* * *
Yes, my soul fits perfectly, exactly, into the cage of this James body. The body feels lovely, like a tailored suit. Still, even though this is so, I know that one day I will have to open the cage door, just to see if my soul can fly.
Our history is overrated, and is crumbling in our hands like dried leaves. Living in the past is for ghosts, or for those who are almost ghosts. And friend, those who say that there is much to be learned from the past aren't learning enough from the present. Open your eyes and open your heart. Wipe your hands clean and move on. The past is right where it belongs.
Is a god above?
Does it matter? Fresh blossoms
on my crape myrtle.
—James Lee Jobe
Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poetry! James Lee will be hosting The Other Voice in Davis this coming Friday (1/19) at the Universalist Unitarian Church on Patwin Drive, featuring Bill Gainer and Kevin Jones plus open mic.
Tonight, stop by Sac. Poetry Center from 5-8pm today for the Sable & Quill Second Sat. Reception for Writers Who Are Also Artists. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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