Sunday, June 17, 2018

Armchair Adventures

Sky in a Jar
—Poems by Nick LeForce, Sacramento, CA
—Anonymous Photos


I have elevated the act
of misplacing items
to a fine art

as if there is within me
a devious adolescent
playing a prank on a friend

by hiding
that one piece of paper,
that one set of keys,
that one little bit of importance

and then watching
with amusement
as I look for it frantically.

I do not want to know
how much time I’ve spent
in those misplaced moments
searching for something
I know to be where it is not
because it was there a minute ago.

I do not want to know
how often I’ve retraced my steps
redone my work
re–searched my soul

trying to find the patron saint
of the lost and found
who can lift a box
of forgotten treasures
and mislaid trinkets
from behind a counter
where I may find
what I have been looking for
and, with a mix of gratitude and relief,
say “thank you,”
“thank you,”
“thank you.”


Even the armchair adventurer
will one day come home
bearing maps of lands unknown,
of places no one else can go;
shoe-worn and travel weary,
telling stories no one hears
and no one sees the sadness
from all the years
of living life on the sidelines.

If only promises,
inked on parchment and
tucked onto dusty shelves,
could show the way;
could bind us to the spine,
opening pages filled
with the loves and losses;
the misery and magnificence
of a ragtag team of misfits
you can only come to love
over time.

If only we could let our lives
become a page–turner,
every part of the plot
a piece of a puzzle
that adds up to something
you cannot wait to discover.

If you read between the lives
of every armchair adventurer,
you will see someone
longing to live a life
that cannot be put down;
a life to which you want to return
in every waking moment
all the way through
to the end. 


I want the deep sleep of trees
that can dream for weeks and months
undisturbed by wind and storms
rooted as they are in life

and growing rings each year
around a question
they do not need to answer.

Knowing themselves
not by what they say or do,
but by drinking sunlight,
caressing earth,
kissing heaven,

and holding fast to a truth
that can only be found
by one who is willing
to stand still
through the passing of seasons
year after year. 


“Sky In a Jar” was written after hearing Hannah Stein read her poetry at Barnes & Noble in Sacramento on 2/19/03.

How I wish to capture the sky in a jar
and hold it out to you as Hannah did.

She knows the quivering you feel
when someone traces the fault-line
across your soul
and can take you back
to the time
when the old world
and the new world
were still one continent.

She wears the years like a scarf
draped around her neck
clothes color-coordinated
and stands in perfect politeness.
But she still feels her own nakedness,
still savors succulent blackberries
hand-picked so the juice stains her fingers
eating only the ripest, those bursting with life,
because she knows
even caged animals
weep for their dead.

She dazzles those, like me,
who walk with silk crutches
taunting us to throw them aside
to dance with her across the rainbow
filling an open jar
with the heavens.

I went out that very night
and began shooting stars
at the moon
and I felt contented
even though
every single one
missed the mark.


Only when the years have whitewashed your hair;
Only when life has etched itself upon your face;
Only then will you come to yourself whole.

Only when you have loved, and lost, and loved again;
Only when you have traveled down dead-end roads
And left a thousand projects unfinished;
Only then will you come to yourself whole.

Only when you have embraced the other face
of your two–faced life;
Only when you have slept in the bed of your own lies;
Only then will you come to yourself whole.

Only when the wind and water have weathered the edges of you;
So much so that you are a remnant of what you once were;
Only then will you come to yourself whole.

Not as arms and legs.
Not as thoughts and feelings,
Not as deeds and accomplishments,
But as something wholly unknowable.

Only then will you find your Self
Forever etched upon the face of the universe.


Today’s LittleNip:

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.

—Doug Larson


Our thanks to Nick LeForce today for his poems, all of which are from his book,
Heaven in Our Hearts (Inner Works), available on Amazon. Nick will be a busy poet this week! On Monday, he will be a featured poet at Sacramento Poetry Center, 7:30pm; on Thursday, he will read in Davis at the John Natsoulas Gallery, 8pm; and on Sunday, 12-4pm, he will be conducting a writing workshop at Sacramento Poetry Center. 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.

Today, area readings offer two choices: Davis Arts Center Poetry Series, with Amanda Hawkins and Vincent Kobelt, 2pm, and Poetry in Placerville, with an open mic for poems and stories, 1pm, at Love Birds Coffee and Tea on Broadway in Placerville.


 Celebrate the poetry of aging!

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