Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Starving Bear

—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

Death is knocking at the door.
Please, let him in.
I wasn't going to live forever anyway.
Death has always been waiting for me,
Like a poor man waiting at a bus stop.
Today, tomorrow; is there a difference?
I'm not sure what comes next, but whatever it is,
I would rather stroll in upright than cower and wait.
Face the end of it all with a glib remark.
A smirk.
Death is a hot iron, and friend,
This shirt is wrinkled. 

Chew the eyes slowly. You have lined up the eyes of six cats on a plate, and you have in your hand a spoon made of the finest silver. The room is new to you; before this, your father never let you in here. You, who have wintered in the dark and summered in the warm light. This is your Chernobyl, your Dachau. Shame and denial are twin births in family after family. The honey is all gone now, eaten by the barbarians, armed with rifles. Here, the bees serve an evil queen. Here, the hive speaks an imperfect English. A chill, born of fear, not temperature, fills the silent room. What can you do? You push the eyes onto the spoon with one of your dirty fingers, and you lift it to your mouth and eat.

After years of sleeping, your soul is awake. Your eyes are brown seas that flood the sky at dusk. Naked, your body holds the Seven Hills of Rome, and the children there squeal with delight. Garcia Lorca rose from the dead to see you dance, and then returned to heaven. The snow envies your laughter, and mountains have fallen at the mere chance of you, at the thought of kneeling before your rich heart. There is a starving bear walking toward you now, but don't worry about it; he has your best interests in mind. Nothing is preordained. I don't believe in fate or luck, not for a moment. I just believe in you.

(For Alexandra)

In every world, there are other worlds, hidden worlds,
And in every person are many other people.
Should we question them? No.
We should bathe them in those secret streams
That flow with golden water.
We should sail with them through one of a million skies.
After all, who will stand forth and command today?
And in which world will we choose to spend
The most quiet and delicious dreams of our lives? 

I dip my toes in the river where no one ever swims.
The water is cold, and I jump in anyway.
I pull a strength up into me from a place far below
And I walk across the fires of the maddened sky.
I do not die. Not yet.
The mauls of life pound me down
And I stand again anyway.
We all own that, but only if we claim it.
I turn away from the face of evil and so become free.
There is no hell, the devils live inside of us.
Cast them out.
Let the beasts come and let the earth quiver.
Whatever is next, I can face.
I do not give a damn for consequence.
I do not give a damn if I now fail.

I have already done everything that I came here to do.


Today’s LittleNip:

May I find a way to heal that which needs healing—

In myself, in others, and in the world.

May I find the courage, wisdom, and kindness to do this.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his fine poems and photos today! James will be busy hosting two readings in Davis this coming week: The Other Voice on Friday at 7:30pm, featuring Sue Daly and Chris Olander (plus open mic) at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Patwin Rd., and the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series at 2pm on Sunday, featuring Amanda Hawkins and Vincent Kobelt at the Davis Art Center on F St. in Davis.

This afternoon from 4-6:30pm, Sac. Poetry Center Gallery will be holding a reception for their new showing, Straight Out Scribes’ Legacy: A Four-Generational Art Show, with artist talks, door prizes, refreshments. 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.

A note that the arts-based literacy nonprofit, 916 Ink (, is hiring writers, poets, and teachers to help motivate and teach workshops for future creators, ages 6-18, who are low-income or at-risk. 916 Ink is looking for a Wordslinger/Workshop Facilitator, 15-25 hrs/week, at their location, 3301 37th St., Sacramento. Info:


 —Anonymous Photo
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