Saturday, June 02, 2018

Writing Some Goodness

Yolo County Bridge
—Poems and Photos by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA

You want to write some goodness.

You open the notebook and you write down a river.

It looks pretty good there on the page,

So you also write down a mountain.

After that, business picks up,

And so you write a lovely valley,

And a small town where the creek feeds the river.

Snowmelt from the mountain swells the creek.

You write people with lives that fit this landscape.

They grow crops that are fed by water from the river.

They sell supplies to the farmers from a store,

And that store is built of wood from valley oaks.

Now you need a green grocer

To sell the produce that is grown,

So you write one, a friendly fellow.

The people have children and you write a school.

They need faith, so you write a church,

And you write some goodness into their souls.

Then you close the notebook,

For their lives are their own. You're done.

What happens next is up to them.

It was a dream,
And in this dream, I was far in the past,
Somewhere in Europe.
Everything was in black and white.
Long dresses, waistcoats, handlebar mustaches.
Like that.
I was trying to tell people that it is alright to love each,
But because of the differences in 'technology'
Between the two eras, I was failing.
It was almost time to return here.
I felt frustrated.
Finally, I got around the problem
By looking deeply into the eyes of each person,
One at a time.
"Love is the answer," I said, again and again.
Then I was home, in my bed again.
My wife was already up, in the kitchen,
And I went and held her. 

Did you ever think that maybe Lazarus wasn't really dead?

The relationship between the wolf and the lamb

Is a one-way love affair.

Eugene McCarthy never really had a chance in 1968.

The testimonies of plain people are often ignored by the juries;

Did you really wear that jacket to court?

The soul falls in love, the body lusts,

And the old hound chews a bone on the sawdust floor.

The lamb would really be better off without the wolf.

Maybe Lazarus wasn't dead at all.

Jesus waited two days before He even began the walk to Bethany.

He must have known something. 

He was not an astronaut, someone will say,

And he never traveled to the moons of Jupiter

Or to Alpha Centauri, so his poems are weak.

Look at them, limping there across the page.

And he did not score the touchdown to win the game,

Or visit Machu Picchu, or pray at Mecca.

So what good are these poor poems?

These poems are mocked by better poems.

He loved a woman.

He raised a family and a peach tree.

So what? We want the snows of Shasta.

We want the Great Flood.

Peaches and children.

Give us a break.


Is it Saturday, or the end of days? 

Time is so slow, and I am often so blind. 

Where is a friend? 

Where is a window to open? 

This river answers to no one. 

Ah, for just an ounce of sorrow, 

So that I could be certain that I can still feel. 

I don't think we really need any kings in the world.

Their hands are heavy, like gold.

Their sweat is poison.

What is a kingdom anyway? It is a birdcage

Left outside to torture the imprisoned bird

With a long look at freedom.

Businessmen, suffocated by greed,

Often want to be king, or to get rich

Serving one. That never turns out well.

They are like priests whose god is money.

And I have grown weary of bowing;

Haven't you? All of those crowns

Would make lovely paperweights.

Think of it—on a windy day

We could leave the windows open

With our papers right out on the desk.

We'll let the poor sit on the thrones

And feel the breeze on their faces. 


Today’s LittleNip:
With compassion in one hand
And kindness in the other, let me work.

—James Lee Jobe


Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his fine poems and photos of Yolo County bridges today! It’s not too late to sign up for James’ June workshop which starts this coming Tuesday. For the month of June, James will be teaching from Robert Bly’s book,
Leaping Poetry: An Idea with Poems and Translations. This group 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. He 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.

If you’re in the mood for a road trip today, head over to San Andreas where Manzanita Writers Press will hold a book release for
Voices of Wisdom: Preserving the Stories of Our Elders, as senior writers celebrate their new print anthology, a product of their workshop by the same name, at 2pm. 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.



 —Anonymous Truth
Celebrate the poetry of truth and the truth of poetry!

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