—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
from the late side of dusk.
The garden accepts the water you give it
as if it were a lovely gift.
A bold lizard darts across the trail
right in front of your clumsy footsteps.
What does the earth want from us?
This valley lives and breathes
like a dear friend.
Through many handsome days
and gentle nights
we all share this space,
we live this life.
Dreaming down by Putah Creek, in a hole in the ground. You are a burrowing owl, sleeping beneath the world where the sounds of the creek lull you into watery dreams. In these dreams sometimes you are a fish, swimming fast through cold water. Sometimes you are the sun, shining like a diamond in the sky. The earth, the sky, and the creek are your heaven. And in this heaven, you dream on and on.
I was asleep, and I dreamed of a life with no hands.
Instead, at the end of each arm was a large, evil crow.
Whenever these crows would caw, a person died,
not where I was, but faraway in a place that is nameless.
I struggled to keep the crows quiet, but I failed.
I woke up from the dream exhausted,
still shushing the damned crows on my arms.
It was my own dream, and I had death for hands.
Hate chews up your stomach the way a mouse chews through the cardboard box to get to the crackers. Hate turns on you. You can count on that. It eats you up from the inside out while the person you hate isn't bothered at all. I don’t hate anyone at all. Hate will grind up your eyeballs and your heart and your flesh until you are less than a memory. Because who wants to remember the hateful, anyway?
From my patio you can see the park across the street. One can measure time by the laughter of the children who are playing in the park, you can hear them through the trees. It is a blessing. The sky changes color with the dimming of the golden light in the west. Later, when the night is strong, the starlight will bless me again. Families picnic, children run and play. From inside my house comes the music of Mozart, it is turned up loud, and here on the patio my wife catches my eye. She is smiling at me, which is also a blessing. I do not her ask why.
Dress up in your funeral clothes,
and kiss me in black. Hard times
are upon us. We must keep hope.
There are death streaks in sky,
and it rains without clouds.
We must also keep faith.
The flags are all at half-mast,
and wreaths hang on the doors.
Where is the strength we so need?
Kiss me in black, your tongue
against my flesh, we are still alive.
The answer is always love, just that.
There is something frightening
inside the mirror.
It is a fearsome thing that lives
between the glass and the silver backing.
When you look into the mirror
you do not see the one that you are,
you see the one that you are not.
One that is the exact opposite of you!
You see the bastard, here to take your life,
here for your soul.
This is wrong, a tree that grows backwards,
its roots to the sky,
its leaves under the earth.
This is a spring that follows summer,
an autumn that follows winter.
It is an evil chaos.
The bastard on the mirror,
Look, but don't believe.
And, friend, when you walk away,
do not dare to look back.
Swim to shore when the sun goes down.
Allow the night to take control;
you don't have to run everything.
Let the night air slowly dry your skin.
The night can be both mother and father,
Lover and friend. It can lead you,
guide you, all the way to sunrise.
May my neighbors turn to me in times of need,
and may I turn to them in times of plenty;
that I might always remember to give, to share,
and not just what I have, but also share what I am.
—James Lee Jobe
Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poetry, and a reminder that James will be hosting The Other Voice this coming Friday, March 16, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Davis, featuring Linda Schiller and Beth Suter (plus open mic), 7:30pm.
A note also that tonight (Sat., March 10), there will be an Opening Art Reception at Sac. Poetry Center, 5-8pm, for art by Nick Moller, “\a guy names Nick\”. That’s at 25th & R Sts., Sacramento. 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.
“You are a burrowing owl…”
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