Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hammering the Nails

Boards to Build a Life
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

I am hammering the nails that hold the boards of my life.
My friends will tell you that I already know what to do.
I have had the dream where my teeth fall out.
Do you know the one? Dreams give us visions and rewards.
I have seen the rays from a sun that is not our sun,
And the rays from a moon that is not our moon.
I am ready now to walk down to sea
And rest in the cool air of the shore.
My feet are railroad cars, cover in soot. Look at them.
The children are all grown and gone,
And my wife is a person of great strength.
They all have my blessings, and I have theirs.
I have four more nails and one more board to go,
And then this life will be built.


Jupiter has announced the death of the ice.
Vast bergs break off from Antarctica and float away north.
The sea is praying, forehead to the floor,
For a larger database, Inshallah.
The world's heart is breaking. Even sharks long for love.
The sea carried the bergs to the shore of New Jersey.
Dick Cheney says this isn't so, but the sea isn't listening,
And neither is Jupiter. No one is listening anymore. 

 Greetings from New Jersey

And I like it when The Voice says to lay down all reason.
We are alive because of the animal in our blood,
The beast that walks through the soul.
The fur of this animal is coarse and warm,
The claws and teeth are sharp.
When the animal stalks across our time on this planet,
We feel rich and strong.
The grace of the animal shines out through our gaze.
Our blood pulses and throbs.
The Voice knows what we need. Lay down all reason.
Don't waste time wondering why.

 A Lion in the Street

There is a lion in the street waiting for that moment
When you discover your own nakedness.
Where is there to go now?
Fat, stupid men carry rifles into restaurants.
They ask the waiter for respect,
But they want really red meat and fear.
There is a sad song on the wind.
You take a hammer and beat the clock to pieces
While keeping time to the music.
The lion is waiting.
You see that you are naked, and you know
That someone will be crying before this night is through. 

 First Baptist Church, Orland, CA

A dog Sunday, broken like the stalks of harvested wheat.
No one is watching the remains of the field.
In the country church, the book is lifted,
And the word is spoken.
People look for the truth the way a hawk looks for mice.
Often, the truth is hidden; you know that already.
The search might take a very long time.
Failure can be your friend, it calls you every now and then.
It is a dog Sunday, the harvest is over,
The congregation is small, and the hawk is hungry.
She flies low over the field, circling, again and again.
Move along, neighbor, there is no truth to be found here.


Today’s LittleNip:

That I might learn to replace guilt with humility,
Fear with courage, anger with forgiveness, greed with generosity.
That I might use my time to do some measure of good.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s fine poems and pix! For his Davis workshop during the month of June, James will be teaching from Robert Bly’s book,
Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations. This will meet on all on four Tuesdays in June at 7pm in the Senghas Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, in the main building. The sessions will run between 60 and 90 minutes, with a break. Bring whatever writing material you prefer, be it pen and paper or a laptop. You do not need to buy the book, but if you want to, James says has the better prices. James will bring copies of various sections to the workshop.

This workshop is free, but registration is required. Once it begins, no new members will be added. Register with James through email at The workshop will be repeated at some point next year; if you cannot attend all four sessions, James asks that you wait until you can.

This morning, from 9:30-1pm, Writers on the Air will feature Victoria Blanco and Jesse Dewhurst (plus open mic) at Sac. Poetry Center, hosted by Todd Boyd. Then this afternoon, 2-4pm, Poetic License poetry read-around will meet at Placerville Sr. Center in Placerville. 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.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate the poetry of the hammer!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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