Saturday, June 23, 2018

Your Own Diamond Soul

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

Dusk. The California Delta. A calm
Lies across the marshes and sloughs.
Like a riddle watching itself in a mirror.
Reeds sways in the delta breeze. Just so.
The sounds of birds. Something splashes
But you don’t see what. Just the ripples
Spreading slowly across the dark water.

 California Delta Otters

The otter swims quietly across the green California slough, pausing here and there for a bite to eat. Just something to eat; that's not too much to seek. Sometimes he stands in the shallow water for a while, blinking. Sixty years old now, I meditate, focusing on my breath starting down in my tummy, going through my nostrils. How can a person to give up vain ambition? I don't know, but I am trying. That's not too much to seek.


Early morning at Seven Mile Slough. The little secret is horrid, and it sees its own reflection in the water. Then, damn secret, it hides its face among the cattails and reeds at the silent and still slough. This is the weakness often ignored by people. Cranes wade in their grayness, perfect and complete. Whole. Free. The slough leads to the river, and the river to the ocean. The secret wades slowly along, pulling its shoes from the mud with an odd sucking sound. 

 California Delta Clapper Rail

Losing the ability to describe the birds,
You become a bird.
A Clapper Rail in the Delta, perhaps.
Feathers. Like your finest suit.
Little claws. Strong like iron, like steel.
Like your mother at her strongest.
Beak. It is at once a weapon, a tool,
And a place to put food.
It is a kind of whistle.
And wings. A life in flight.
You cannot describe the birds anymore;
It's a little sad, but you feel better
As you bank into the wind
And rise up to the roof of silver clouds.

 California Delta Egrets

While watching the egrets wade
In the slough, the words came to me. 
I wrote these words down
For the people who have no names,
So that they might read them
When their sorrows finally become hunger.
In the slough the egrets were often still
As stones, as if they knew that I would need
A moment or two to find the right words.
And what are the words?

I don't tell you that in this poem. 

 California Delta Slider

You are taking a walk beside the river. Look at the water, is it not more beautiful than the sheen of a diamond? Like tomorrow. Like love. Like the slender hands of the angels under starlight. The trees drink your most kind thoughts and are silver in return. They reward your faith with a new name. It is full-on winter and you can feel the cold crispness of heaven with your nose and your ears. You feel a love for god and you look up at the sky, even though you know that the divine is inside of you, in your own golden heart. In your own diamond soul. A red eared slider slowly eases into the water without a sound.


Today’s LittleNip:

Dawn, I've been waiting
For you for one thousand years—
Not a wink of sleep!

—James Lee Jobe


Thanks to James Lee Jobe this morning for his fine poems and photos of our California Delta! See below for the Delta hippos.

Jackie Howard and Gerrie Walker (plus open mic) will be reading at Sac. Poetry Center this morning, 9:30am, hosted by Todd Boyd at Writers on the Air. Then this afternoon, 2pm, Poetic License poetry read-around meets at the Placerville Sr. Center on Spring Street 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 poetry—and the Delta!
(For more about how UCD Center for Watershed Sciences 
used exotic animals as “weed whackers” in 2015, go to 

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
to Medusa.