Saturday, December 21, 2019

Of Lightning & Storms

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

Here are the months of lightning and storms.
Winter. Dark clouds pass over this valley,
Thick and fat with rain.
I love the winter rains like I love this place.
I belong here. Let me ask you,
Truly, does a person own land,
Or does the land own the person?

A winter afternoon, California's vast Central Valley. The wind whips the trees like an evil master and the rain blows sideways. An elm tree branch breaks away and brings down a power line, a few houses go dark. Water rises, somewhere a levee fails, an old man tries to drive across the flooded roadway when he shouldn't; determination isn't always the proper choice in life. Here, inside my house, it is warm and dry. Snug. My birds watch the weather through the sliding glass door of the patio. The larger one is munching on walnuts and listening to the Verdi aria on the radio. It's lovely, this music.


Winter. I dream through the long, dark hours,
And I wake to the sounds of my wife
Moving around in the house, doing small things.
O gods of rain and cold, do you also hear
Her quiet footsteps in the night?
Do you love her, too? 

You might go to sleep, get lost inside the blankets of your own life, and wake up one day as a dog, or a giraffe, or a wren. “What was my name, before, when I was a person? Or did I just dream it all?” You might think that as you move through this new life, and the morning sunlight filters down through the green summer leaves of the trees.

Fishing in the dark; the fish didn't care.

My father didn't care either,

Baiting the hooks in the moonlight,

Running the trot-line in a dingy.

That's for channel cats.

Casting for crappie and bass from the bank,
Cutting some of them up for trot-line bait,

Frying others in a big pan on the low campfire.

Biscuits in a covered pot on the coals.

Strong coffee laced with good bourbon.

By morning we're full, drunk, wired,

And have some decent catfish to take home.

A man-made lake on a dammed-up East Texas river.

Dad fished that river thirty years before the dam.

He knew where every creek fed the river,

All the deep and shallow spots.

He made fun of his kid brothers for fishing all day

In the hot Texas sunshine,

It was a lot more pleasant in the moonlight.

Sabine River watershed. 1970s. 

You can pretend all you want. You can pose and make claims that no one can possibly back up, but in the end we’re all just doing what we can. We're all making choices from the options we see, and guessing at the chance of options unseen. We are born, we love, we suffer, we die. Suffering and joy, living and dying. Do you need a reason to do your best? If so, friend, then that is not your best. Do your best because your best is there to do. Do your best because it is your best.


Today’s LittleNip:

Restraint and patience. Wisdom and diligence. Above all, kindness and generosity. May I seek out ways to practice these every day, and remember to be thankful that I can.

—James Lee Jobe


Today is the shortest day of the year, and thank you, James Lee Jobe, for guiding us skillfully into the Winter Solstice, which will take place tonight at 8:19pm, PST. We know about Stonehenge, but here are some winter solstice celebrations from other cultures:

For up-coming poetry events in our area, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, reaching up for the poetry that falls with the rain ~


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.