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James Lee Jobe 




In dismal nights I call upon God. I'm like that sometimes.

Beset by problems, and what do I want? The fire.


The moon slides down and the sun slides up,

The night and day are defined by time and the fire.


Walk across this world. Step by step, you move

Through your life. Often, it is up to you to bring the fire.


We all spin on this same wheel, a cycle of breath,

Defined by the elements; earth, water, air, and fire.


You and I have something in common. We both

Have to answer to the truth. We face the same fire.


Let's change what we can, and just accept the rest.

Stack the wood here. We'll warm ourselves with a fire.







Twins are born and speak a language only known to them,

Science can't explain it, and God doesn't bother. Chop the wood

And build a fire. We'll put on some fiery Cuban music and dance.



Your house burned down and your in-laws are out of money.

Your father has stayed drunk since Nixon was President.

It has been decades since you have stripped naked to dance.



Some people say one thing when they mean another;

What a pain in the ass. They are mean, ugly, and lonely

Because no one has ever invited them to the dance.



Once I got drunk with my mother and my favorite uncle.

We were at a honky-tonk in Dallas with a country band,

Laughing and claiming the sawdust floor when we danced.



The days fly by faster the older you get, this I know for sure.

The great silver-back apes don't keep track of it at all,

Why should I? Time is just life asking you to dance.



James, you have spent a lifetime scribbling down poems.

Are you satisfied? Was any of it even slightly worthwhile?

Yes. I would do it again, and even add a flourish to my dance.








I am waiting for the rain to return from its bed in the ocean.

And I am waiting for the wind to punish the faithful trees.


I want the night to be long and cold, as endless as love.

And I want the days to call to me, telling heavenly stories.


One day the dogs here will rise on their hind legs and walk

like those men who have laid down their fears forever.


One day the children will cast off the ridiculous rules we have made

and live free, making their own art, their own music, rid of us

at last.


I am waiting for the wheel of living to spin around to the dark side.

I want the days to be short and weak like my father's injured hand.


I want the truth to be the truth for everyone, just as God is God.

And I want my poems to live on after I have gone, shining and real.




I want the army to lay down the rifles and missiles

and then dance to mad Cuban music all night.


I want the children of the dead to forgive their killers

and travel west, and follow the setting sun like cowboys.


And I want my sister to lay down her drugs and sleep,

and wake up refreshed, clean, and with her mind clear.


In this land we tell the children weak lies about heaven

and hell, when this place is hell, and heaven waits for all.


In this land the wealthy strip the meat from the bones

of the poor, and demand entertainment from the skeletons.


When will we stop this chaos and hold each like family,

like lovers, like children holding the father who returned?


God, grant us this: that we might know our own souls,

and that we might find a way to put the hatred behind us.

James Lee Jobe has been published in MANZANITA, TULE REVIEW, PEARL, and many other periodicals. His poems are also included in THE SACRAMENTO ANTHOLOGY: ONE HUNDRED POEMS. He has six chapbooks published, including WHAT GOD SAID WHEN SHE FINALLY ANSWERED, Rattlesnake Press. He lives in Northern California. 

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