Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection


From the stone tower atop Blue Hill
Boston’s skyscrapers resemble tombstones

“Daddy, did you build those?” A pause.
“Well, did somebody build them?”

Let us now delineate an array
of solar and lunar expectations
parenting the human condition


This sawtooth display
counters basic nature

spirals, branching, honeycomb
So which one are you coursing?


On my parking spot, Brianna’s
blue-and-purple chalk spells out


– perhaps she has the story straight
where beauty’s rainbow masks terror

Even a fruitcake granny can see
“He needs to get right with the Lord”


I’ve gone tracing

Some rain. Some sun
The labor spreads before me

poem copyright by Jnana Hodson
(originally appeared in the journal Indigo)


I might note that twice within one year, in two different Meetings, I saw Friends on the facing benches rise to break off vocal messages that were not “conducive to meditation and communion with God.” One was essentially a review of a political movie, and the other the rantings of a mentally unbalanced attender who apparently found in the action (and the followup) a firm loving; in the latter instance there were some difficulties within the worship community afterward, especially among those who initially perceived the action as “authoritarian” (that is, male domination) in what they had thought was a do-your-own-thing kind of religion in the understanding that has developed since, however, has come a clearer sense of what Friends are about and the functioning of Good Order.


For more Seasons of the Spirit, click here.


The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear fashion. So what’s on my mind these days? How about counting on these fingers?


  1. And now, fresh strawberries. The bed we renovated last year is making amends. So how do you like yours the best?
  2. So delightful to have cut flowers indoors, too. A sprig of laurel (from the burial ground) is stunning against the deep purple velvet of a Siberian iris.
  3. French 75s. That’s the cocktail they like at Chris and Linda’s.
  4. I still aspire to writing a novel with only three or four characters. Two, however, feels just too tight. It would be something tightly focused and linear. But the current has often pulled me in the opposite direction. Big Inca, for instance, is essentially four – but look at all the others who keep wandering in and out!
  5. How little of the traditional canon I’ve pursued. There are vast gaps in my reading repertoire. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read – far from it.
  6. A perfect June morning: cool, touch of breeze, sunny and clear. After a full night’s sleep.
  7. Her eye is so close I see my own reflection.
  8. Maybe writing and revising have been my first love over all these years.
  9. Headed to the liquor store to make sure I’d have enough gin for a martini but arrived five minutes after it closed: take that as a sign.
  10. Being remembered as “an intense young man.”


The sign over a sidewalk on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, immediately had my attention. Alas, we were strolling a few hours before noon. The day was evolving in other directions.

The sign over a sidewalk on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, immediately had my attention. Alas, we were strolling a few hours before noon. The day was evolving in other directions.



long enough we could see the flashes of ruby throat
a flash of flight in front of me
only one thing that could be, such fast motion

later, sitting in the crossbars of the feeder
before dropping to the sugar water

continue to see flits around the house
that big bee funny motion

a hummingbird at our feeder, size of a dragonfly

hummingbirds arrive late April or May
leave in August or early September
fly 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico
bulk up in Georgia and Florida adding
an ounce of fat to their four-ounce bodies …

to wit, some most amazing creatures

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
For more,
click here.



While much of the surrounding financial district of downtown Boston is rising ever higher in the sky, some of the older buildings hold their own, adapting to change.

While much of the surrounding financial district of downtown Boston is rising ever higher in the sky, some of the older buildings hold their own, adapting to change.

Downtown skyscrapers embody the financial and corporate enterprise of a great city.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.



the waitress popped up with the usual
“how are you today?”
but rather than trying
to cover up with a phony “fine”
I said instead, “rotten”
and she did a double-take and came back

by the end of the meal, we were both laughing


arguing we needed music that reflected the Machine Age?
discomfort, bottled up until exploding

and when buzzed by a sailplane
I was all skull, brain, thought, memory

tried sunbathing just now: too restless
wishing to be seventeen again


the underlying reason for these orthodontics?)


“well, if you do find a way
to become seventeen, they can’t
throw you in jail!”)

two calls in a day, one wanting
the bank’s certificate of deposit department

and another an alleged beverage survey
calling long-distance from Philadelphia
for the youngest female in my household
(a likely story, probably an obscene phone call

that got hung up on) . old wounds have reopened

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015


In this environment I encounter many birds I can’t yet identify: stellar and Clark jays in addition to magpies, much less the common raven I’d thought a crow. Meanwhile, the cardinals, warblers, and finches I knew back east are memories. Even this landscape contradicts my usual referents.

The mailman delivers a long letter from a friend who confesses that sometimes an hour passes before he puts his first word down on paper — something I’d never guess, for his lines flow so naturally. I assumed they originated effortlessly. But to know otherwise?

Don’t force it, as Kokopelli cautions. Wait for the energy to gather.

Keep the pathway clear.

For more insights from the American Far West and Kokopelli, click here.


she’s the one with the comb and scissors

the fruit of my womb

for her thirteenth birthday
she wanted a rented limousine
six hours, unlimited mileage, to sashay

through the Mystery Cafe “where murder
is always on the menu” but even then
adjusting our calendars was the killer

maybe I’d appreciate the suggested list
to just pull the trigger
against Mother Nature and Aging

what I was fit to tap out this evening

please stay tuned or advise with directions

crazy for lovers

Adam and Eve at puberty, separated by a large apple

a red candle-lit cloud kiosk on Copley Square in Boston

let you peruse the 

apple perched on a suspended steamer trunk

a map of European geology free of political borders

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of
Partitas, click here.


Many of my years as a newspaper editor included handling the business section. The daily markets tables included not just stock prices but other items, some with exotic titles. “Bright Sweet Crude,” for instance, is a grade of petroleum in the futures trading. Well, why not transform it to the renewable energies of the Animal Kingdom, as I have in a collection of poems by that name?

Foreign Exchange is another, based on the floating rates of currency transactions. This time, as my newest collection of poems, “foreign” can be anything we encounter outside of ourselves, and the “exchange” can be the experience of discovery.

Just wait till you see what I do with Composites Update, Rough Rice, or Chicago Eggs a year down the pike.

For now, consider a brief flash. Something that sparkles or shimmers. A half-seen motion, perhaps recollected later. Illumination. A beacon. A guide. A break in the night. Sometimes, this is something even the blind perceive. A word of truth. Prophecy or healing. A vision of eternal mysteries. A star or hint of coming dawn. And then, as James Nayler instructed: “And as thou followest the light out of the world, thou wilt come to see the seed, which to the world’s wisdom and glory is crucified” (Journal, 349). Everything is transformed and made new. Mind the Light.

And then touch it, a Foreign Exchange, indeed.


Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange

For these poems and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.



any stretch of shoreline
is not two sides of the same coin
viewed from water or land

even assuming you know the twisting roads
or clusters of housing and wharves
or white steeples and beacons
the familiar melts unevenly

even the maritime charts and roadmaps
one measured in knots
and the other, miles

for many good reasons
the pieces rarely fit

even if you could walk on water
and still the rough waves


land is a kind of insurance
if you don’t crash

any grounding and the atmosphere
both move, often in contrary
currents, you navigate a facade

blue is never the ocean’s true nature
even on a summer day
unnoticed red or yellow modulate

when rain comes up
the beacon vanishes
in fear or arrogance


no matter how similar
they initially appear

waterfowl bridge this disparity
moving, air

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of seacoast poems,
click here.