Saturday, June 29, 2019

One Page At A Time

—Poems by James Lee Jobe, Davis, CA
—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe

Spring returns to my valley with green plants, breezes, and blue skies. A flowering begins, almost as if life here is following an invisible schedule. And so it is. And so are we.


The Sacramento Valley, it can seem so empty
And vast that even this rain could never fill it.
See now as this storm stretches out
From day into night, and into another day.


Huge, flat, long, and wide, often the Sacramento Valley seems much lonelier than I ever am, even though at that moment I might be standing where the valley and I are totally alone. Flat land, empty sky, and a man.

Was I a man? Did I lift the fruit
To heaven like a treasure to be offered?
Did I do more good than harm?
Am I forgiven for what harm I did
Shall I forgive myself?

Was I a man? Did I connect the earth
To the sky with the length of my
Leave only footprints that fade with
   the rains?
Did I nourish, teach, help, give?
Did I learn how to truly receive?

Was I a man? Yes. And at the end

I can face myself without shame.


 up at precisely the right second
 see a mockingbird fly by my window.
 lovely, how perfect,
 I stopped writing my poem
 begin writing this one,
 to give thanks
 the marvelous randomness

I can’t explain the wind, and why bother trying? Like us, it begins somewhere and ends somewhere else. Always traveling, and in a hurry. Does the wind need a reason? No, it just is. Outside just now, the wind felt fine touching my face. And I am not traveling anywhere, I'm staying right here. Why? I just am.


A break now from the winter rains;
Perhaps a few days or a week
Of sunshine. A couple of hours
Past sunrise, wild finches
Peck in my yard and on the patio.
I give them names and address them so,
But they are far too wise to care.

What is it to be a human? Well, we have love, sorrow, laughter, and music. And tools, language, and the craft of culture, among other things.  And like all beings, we have the cycles of being alive, the cycles of life. Just as I wrote that, a lovely breeze blew in through the open window.


The Sierra Nevada Mountains,
The eastern wall of the Sacramento Valley,
Dates back to the Paleozoic.
Now, that’s a lot older than this Valley Oak
I am sitting under. Two hundred million years
Against maybe two hundred years, but still
This old oak feels just as timeless to me.
How deep are these roots?
How deep are mine?
Some of my son’s ashes sit here in this valley,
Like this oak, passing time, and in time
My own ashes will join them.
That’s life.
Time. The mountains. The valley.
What goes on.

A high-school boy asked me today about Zen.
“Things should make more sense,” he said, and,
“I feel like I might be asleep… all the time.”
I told him how to meditate, maybe
Two minutes of instruction, period.
He said he would try, and set off to order
A copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
It’s the first day of autumn, officially,
But here in the valley that means little.
A truly hot day. Walking outside,
I watched the sky for a few minutes.
Vapor trails from endless jets
But also this, a turkey vulture circled,
On the hunt. At a distance
It can be hard to tell them from hawks,
But for some reason I felt sure.
The turkey vulture and the boy.
Both hunting, but for different kinds of food.
Meat for one, reality for the other.
May they both be fed.
May they both be well.

Life is a book, my friend,
And we can only read one page at a time.


Today’s LittleNip:
No one to be seen, and no one to see me; this valley farmland goes on and on. Peace. The sun at noon, crops growing in the warm light. As far as the eye can see.

—James Lee Jobe


Good morning and our thanks to James Lee Jobe for his poems encouraging us to wake up! Gasshō, James.

A reminder that tomorrow (June 30) is the deadline for submissions to the up-coming issue of
Sacramento Voices 2019 from Cold River Press. For info, see

And today at 2pm is the second installment of the new reading series, Creative Minds, at Gos Art Gallery in Sacramento on Del Paso Blvd. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!  

 Gasshō: A Mudra of Coming Together
—Anonymous Artwork

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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