Saturday, June 15, 2019

This World Goes Around

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

A fan in the window to pull in the cool, night air
Sleeping under a favorite blanket—waking once
Around 3 am to read a couple of poems
—Wang Ping’s Ten Thousand Waves—
Then sleep until the soft sunrise
Sings me awake to go make the coffee
That’s a nice night, isn’t it?
Yes, nice indeed


A rainy day, cold, gray
And empty.
Drinking coffee alone by the window
When a lone sunbeam breaks through.
Hello, world.
I’m still with you.


Not yet sunrise. Another day.
I take the washcloth and soap it up,
And I wash away the number written on my wrist.
785. Written with the ink of a ballpoint pen.

“785 what,” a friend had asked yesterday.

“785 sunrises without my son in the world.
785 sunrises since he died at age 26.”

My friend, who had no way of knowing
That I do this thing, looks away,
Trying to think of something to say.

“Maybe you should try to... move on,”
He suggests in a whisper, touching my shoulder.

“Everyone gets to grieve in the way
That is best for them,” I say,
“So I keep the count of how many days
I have carried the weight. I’ll never stop.”

I have that conversation every few days,
Whenever someone see the number on me.
It’s alright. I don’t mind
And I am not in the least embarrassed.

It is what it is.

5:29 AM. I haven't slept much tonight.
That’s alright. There is always tomorrow,
And until then I will keep the count
For one more day.
One more sunrise.

I take the pen and write 786
On the inside of my wrist.
Then I write it again,
Tracing it over so that the ink is bold.

Do you want to see what grief looks like?
I’ll show you. 786.
I’ll show it to you anytime.

We met when we were still young, but just barely. I was the river and you were the trees, the forest. Your woods were filled with many creatures, deer, rabbits, owls. My river held trout that flashed like silver and they recited quick poems in the deep quiet. My body was a river. Your body was the woods. The world went spinning around the warmth of the sun.


Is the universe endless? Why, sure!
And I am the universe
And the universe is me.
I am also endless, but I am also impermanent.
How can that be? I don’t know!
(And it doesn’t matter anyway.)
When I die, I will go on and on,
And yet there will be nothing.
I hope I have time for a good laugh
On the way out.

Two days of rain, then a break,
Followed by two days of clear skies,
Cool air. And tonight? No moon yet
As I ride the bus downtown
To hear poet William O’Daly
Read his fine poems and translations.
I stop for a coffee and scribble
In my notebook for an hour.
          My goodness!
It's a pleasant life to be a poet
In this Northern California valley.


My mother whipped me with a belt, a serving ladle,
A hairbrush, a spatula, and her fat, heavy hands.

Every blow was like being struck down by God.
Every blow held the taste of terror to me, a boy.

When the whipping was through, Mother held me,
Whispering, “I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t want to.”
Do you see how she loved me with scars? Fearing her
Taught me compassion. I did not whip my own children.

A perfect darkness, no moon
As the Sacramento River marches south.
This river is an army on the move.
And what am I? I am a pine tree,
bristlecone pine obscured by pitch black night
Among all the trees along the river bank.
        Well, no man is really a pine tree
And no river is really an army.
It is the strength of living I am talking about.
Midnight here, it is morning in London and Paris,
Along the banks of the Thames and the Seine.
A dark night, a new day.
Rivers in motion as the earth is in motion.
People in motion.
Light and darkness, life goes on.
This world goes around.


The trees are here to watch over us. In turn, the mountains watch over the trees, and the sky watches over everything. Is it true? I don’t really know, of course, but I can tell you this; the thought comforts me, and the pine tree above me is perfect and true.

Today’s LittleNip:

The true person is one with the earth,
One with the sky and the seas.
And the self? Left far behind.

—James Lee Jobe


Thank you, James Lee Jobe, for today’s poems of resonance! Tomorrow, Sunday the 16th, James will host Davis Arts Center Poetry Series with Patrick Grizzell, plus open mic, at the Davis Arts Center on F Street in Davis, 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.

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 “One with the sky and the seas.”

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.