Saturday, September 08, 2018

Talking Your Way Out of Death

Lower Bidwell Park, Chico, CA
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

The moon is nearly full, and I have set speakers in the window 

So that now the music from a sitar and a tabla kiss the night air. 

I am still myself, even now. 

Looking down at the wet dirt I see 

That there are no footprints here but my own. 

It is winter, and the trees are naked. 

Where is that boy who used to play around here? 

Running and laughing? 

Gone, grown, now a man somewhere, I suppose. 

Inside the house someone turns the music up louder. 

I dance a little, no one can see me here, 

And try to remember the boy's name. 

I raise up my arms and turn in a circle in bright moonlight. 

A clear sky. 

 Upper Bidwell Park

The bite of winter. Outside, the poor are huddled in doorways. 

Some are trying to be invisible. Broken teeth and cold feet. 

Empty stomachs where the hardest of the angels hide. 

Prayers in their heads. The street is a war that no one wins, 

A grief with a screaming voice. The street is a hammer. 

Cold rain, cold wind. The bite of winter. 

You pass by and some of them look up at you. 

Some look away.

 Bidwell Park

Talking your way out of death. Cutting down a tree 

With a small folding pocket knife. Or seeking truth 

In the world of small men. Continuing on with no strength left 

And no reason to do it anyway. Living like a spider fighting 

To stay alive in the draining dishwater. Sitting down at night 

And not knowing where the day went; didn't you 

Only just wake up? Fishing when you have only one arm. 

Being angry over something ridiculous like a traffic signal 

Or the wind. Surrender. Surrender. You were not born 

To win or lose, but you were born; isn't that enough? 

 Bidwell Park Swimming Area

A great deal of life is made from the deeds of previous lives. You wake feeling guilty, or sad, or filled with despair, and you don't know why. You are frightened for one child and have unending confidence in another. Tuesdays seem somehow better than Wednesdays. When paddling the boat across dark water, you keep looking down, you can't help it. Something is down there, you can feel it. Friend, there is more going on here than meets the eye. Long ago, you set this ball in motion, and now the play is on. What can you do? Just do your best, and don't stop until you hear the whistle blow. 

 Bidwell Park Hiking Trail

Even when you remember the dream 

There is seldom any sense to it. 

And friend, that's how it should be. 

Logic is not required to dream, 

Like your name, the dream is your own. 

Just as your thoughts are yours alone. 

Some things in life just belong to you. 

And the long curve of birds in flight? 

That one is a little harder to explain. 

Let’s just watch the sky and wait.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I take shorter, softer steps. That I speak more quietly, and in an easy manner. That I give at least as much as I take, or as much as I use. That I respect the people and landscape around me. This I pray.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poetry and photos! In a Davis Poet Laureate update, James’ inauguration will be this Tuesday, Sept. 11, 5:45pm, at the Davis City Council meeting, 23 Russell Blvd., Davis ( And he has begun a second blog for poets in Yolo County to send their work, and he says he will post everything that is sent. That’s at

Today from 5-8pm, Sac. Poetry Center Gallery will hold a Second Sat. Reception, this one for City of Trees: An Invitational Art Show to benefit the Sac. Tree Foundation. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Celebrate the poetry of the night sky!

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