—Photos Courtesy of James Lee Jobe
Dreams and trees, dreams with milk and honey. The scythe slicing through silk, through wheat, and through all unreasonable expectations. Silver and gold, filtered with rubies and the wetness of love, filtered with diamonds. The smells and flavors of sex. The smells and flavors of a life together. These are the ways that the humans find themselves, the ways that they find each other. Night is here, night and silence, and now they might hold one another until day returns, and in that embrace is courage.
Down here, it's very deep and thick, and covered with rock and stone. The digging takes years, perhaps a lifetime, and parts of a person are often lost along the way. It's dangerous this far below, but somewhere down here is a measure of truth, just a bit of real honesty, and if it takes some work and a wound or two to reach that truth, that's not too high of a price to pay. Stone to the left and stone to the right. Darkness and rock. And only the strength of one human heart to rely upon.
Beautiful and perfect; those flowers on my cactus that live for just one day. They bloom with color and glory, as magnificent as life, if only for a short while. And I stand there marveling at the sight, wondering why it is that the cactus flowers move me like no other, more than roses, more than lilies, when it dawns on me that they are all the more lovely because they will die so soon. How human of them.
The sun has once again slipped away into the west, somewhere toward the ocean. The house is empty and still. I light the incense and say the words. Within moments I settle down into my own emptiness. Evening zazen.
So it has come to this; the last bee alive on earth. Watch as I turn my hand in the air and the bee follows it. A flowing motion for both of us. Watch as I lean in close, as if to speak to the bee, but say nothing as my mind is a blank. What does one say to the final bee? Summer. The day is very hot, over 100 degrees. I turn to go back into my house, and the last bee follows me like a happy dog. Perhaps I’ll call him Lewis.
Your grandparents went first. Then your father. Maybe one grandparent outlived your father just a little, and so felt that extra bit of suffering. And your mom. Your favorite uncle, the one you could talk to. Then before your knew it, that entire generation was gone. All of their friends. The older neighbors. Dead. Every last one of them. Death, spreading like black mold in an old mildewed house. And so you became the older generation. Who is that in the mirror? Is that really you? You move slower, you think slower. It doesn't matter anymore which way you walk, the mold is spreading there already. And then one day that son of a bitch comes for you, too. What? You were expecting a fairy tale? Friend, I am not always here with good news.
May compassion be part of our deepest nature. Let it rise from our interconnection with all things. And as our compassion rises, so let life begin anew, redeemed.
—James Lee Jobe
Our thanks to James Lee Jobe for today’s poems and pix with his usual mix of good news and bad news on this, the annual Sacramento Poetry Day! This official proclamation was made by then-Mayor Anne Rudin in 1986. To see Patrick Grizzell’s wonderful description of how it all came to be, go to www.facebook.com/patrick.grizzell/posts/10208638162724506/.
Black Women Tell Tales today at Writers on the Air, beginning at 9:30am, and featuring Stephanie Bray, Brenda Davis, Gladys Wilburn, and Geraldine Walker plus open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, hosted by Todd Boyd. Also in Sacramento today, starting at 2pm: Creative Minds spoken word gathering of artists of all kinds at GOS Art Gallery on Del Paso Blvd., is hosted by Gerry "Gos" Simpson and Straight Out Scribes. In Placerville from 2-4pm, it’s the Poetic License read-around at the Placerville Sr. Center lobby on Spring Street. The suggested topic for this month is "forgetfulness", but other subjects are also welcome.
Or head over to Stockton for the Flor y Canto Celebration of Poetry, Song and Dance at Haggin Museum on N. Pershing Avenue, hosted by Eleazar Caballero from 1:30-4pm. 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.
—Medusa, celebrating the Flor y Canto of poetry!
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