—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe
I wake to the sound of heavy rain;
Is it afternoon? It is daytime,
But dark from the storm. Look at me,
An old man asleep in my chair
With a book I dropped on my chest;
Bashō’s travels and poetry. Well now,
Bashō has his journey and I have mine.
I empty the old seed from my bird cages
And give fresh seed to my parakeet and my conure.
I do not throw the old seed in the trash, no,
I toss it out on my back patio, where wild finches live
Among the jasmine and the crape myrtle.
Tiny and beautiful, they devour this meal with gusto,
Like loggers after plates of ham and eggs.
As the finches hop about, I admire them,
So full of life, just like you and I.
They bless the world with their smallness.
Even at night, roses.
Roses in starlight, moonlight.
Roses standing upright in the dark.
Come morning, we will rise
And love them.
Then we will love ourselves.
Water and land, the cycles of season,
Weather and the deeds of humans;
The changes that made this valley.
There is much to take in.
An ancient inland sea between ranges
Dries up into fertile soil,
Crisscrossed by the creeks and rivers
That now feed it all fresh water.
The climate, a rainy season and a dry one
Blessed with little freezing.
Levees and dams to channel the water—
It isn’t what nature built,
But it does indeed feed millions of people.
And me, a poor poet, blessed
With spiritual wealth and financial poverty.
I do not know if I am happy man
For settling here, or if I am just in love
With the walnut blossoms year after year.
Almost no money, but there’s plenty of food
And there aren't any bill collectors seeking me.
I finished the outside chores before the rain began
And my wife smiled at me quite a lot;
Perhaps I am a rich man after all.
Wife, I wrote your name
Just to see it on the page,
And I cast several spells
For your health and happiness.
Together, we endured the years.
Tonight, we’ll eat chicken
And play Mahjong.
And tomorrow? Ah, what tomorrow?
There is only tonight.
Today it was shower time for the Planet Earth,
At least the part of the Earth where I live.
A long, steady rain, washing it all;
The sky, the trees, the ground—all was washed clean.
A good rain always feels like a fresh start to me.
Even Putah Creek and Cache Creek were flushed out.
It’s a good thing;
I’ve always heard that cleanliness is next to godliness.
Pass me that soap, Sister!
Love comes from love, life comes from life. Looking up, by chance, at just the right moment to see the red tail hawk disappear behind the stand of valley oaks.
—James Lee Jobe
Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for today’s gentle poetry journey alongside our turkey friends.
Gail Entrekin, Editor of Canary, writes from the Bay Area that the Summer Solstice issue of Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis is now available at canarylitmag.org/. She says, “Canary is a literary journal that explores one’s engagement with the natural world. It is based on the premise that the literary arts can provide an understanding that humans are part of an integrated system.”
Poetry in our area today begins with Writers on the Air, featuring Capital Story Tellers Sue Hobbs and Suzi Boyd, plus Poet Mary Zeppa and open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, beginning at 9:30am. Then this afternoon from 2-4pm, Poetic License read-around takes place in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring Street. Suggested topic is “water color”, but other subjects also welcome. 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.
—Medusa, celebrating poetry!
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