Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Relationships


Within the range of distinctives
of nasty red, the Capitol black
the ethereal albino instead
he aligns with the eastern gray
and the western gray.

Yet who would be saint of the squirrel?

Not Lord Rama, who caresses one
as a pet. Nor the cultivating Hermes.

The Blackfoot know him as Old Man.
As he was becoming.

*   *   *

of course squirrels have faith
of a practical sort
in running the wire, in leaping from a branch
and landing a full eight feet between trees
with such airy jurisdiction

*   *   *

in a flash         such as music
or the tail        as a sail

just leap
and grab hold somewhere    

*   *   *

the question, at heart, what was in his blood?
as well as what was it becoming?
not the patriarch, then          free from bondage

*   *   *

overhead, the years overlap
underfoot, the roots tangle

to be light, then         lighter than pigeons
or laughter and tears

become gray pussy-willow                 at the end of winter

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To read the full set of squirrelly poems,
click here.


what happened to all the nuts
planted back there
acorns with their hearts ripped out
all his transports in this cosmic trap
in the breach             the yard could as easily be jammed
with half-buried books
waiting to be devoured

all the same, he darts into hidden pages,
spitefully                   aware his plot was unfolding
more than ever expected

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To read the full set of squirrelly poems,
click here.


Just what more do we need
in addition to the beginnings of two panels of ferns
behind the lilacs – my woodland mirror

or a blooming tepee with gourds and climbing beans
surrounded by zinnias for my Lady of Sunday Comics
in the heart of the exposed swamp

and the race to implant the kitchen-door garden  …

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


Composing my Braided Double-Cross collection marked a turning point, one that came as I was getting my feet back on the ground as a poet after getting sidetracked into the demands at a shirt-sleeves management level and later focusing on novel-length fiction. Up to this point, my poems and, for that matter, much of my fiction focused on place – the outdoors, especially.

Personally, recovering from the collapse of a marriage and what I thought was better tomorrow on the horizon, I hunkered down back in the ranks of my career rather than trying to climb the proverbial ladder. I needed to catch my breath and nurse my wounds. This included a deep review of my life, the nature of relationships, the meanings of being male, connecting in contemporary society – and somehow, that all came into play when I came across an announcement for a book-length poetry competition by a university press. In some flash of intuition, I decided to do a 60-page collection based on notes I’d been gathering. Two weeks later, I was exhausted – but the draft was done.

It wasn’t the first time I’d done a poetry manuscript based on a focused theme. My American Olympus, conceived as a longpoem, had earlier tackled the Olympic Peninsula. But this was the first time I chose to work with individual poems of a general length and style, and it was a leap into love, not in the traditional vein but of a more brutal, realistic take on today’s interactions.

While I had already drafted a novel that would break out into Promise, Peel (as in apple), St. Helens in the Mix, and Kokopelli’s Hornpipe, its focus was more on marriage and trying to work as a couple or with other couples.

Now I was venturing into fresh territory. With Braided Double-Cross – and the subsequent Blue Rock and Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror, each of which tackles the same subject in its own unique structure – you could say I was taking the “inner child” concept a step further. These look at love and loving from the perspective of an “inner teen” – one full of adolescent passion, defiance, anger, hunger, raging hormones, overwhelming loneliness. I wanted to record it in its fullness.

At the time, readers and editors under the age of 45 seemed to rave about the work. Those older were largely appalled. Somehow, I still find that telling.

Over the years, the material has also worked itself into many of my other poems; I do have a fondness for Baroque and a respect for the way Bach and Handel recycled so much of their composition. I think, too, that much of the graffiti mosaic or jazz infused energy found in my poetry takes off from this point.

Well, about three decades have transpired since all that. I’m glad I wrote the poems when I did, the way I did. Today would be a different story.


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


he could hole up
with long-suppressed luminous temperaments

if only he could scale every surface except glass
shimmy up the black steel pole and raid the bird feeder
hang upside down from a sunflower

moving toward transition
an untested dream
from the stockpile     admits to darling insecurity
in the hole     the tree     the ground

faint implausible rhythms     chirps more lasting
if not so lucrative

*   *   *

every tree branches, so you choose in a flash
and keep running     in the desert he had wondered
about squirrels so far from the nearest tree
the ones who live in burrows
whether somewhere they’d made a wrong turn

a deer makes a bigger target
than foraging for dynamite

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To read the full set of squirrelly poems,
click here.


bright brown irises
maybe a little too wide-eyed (available)
hair golden heartbreak. still

Duquesne University and Uniontown, Pennsylvania,
were places he’d been, he told her
requesting the next dance

there’s more than lightness afoot
driving these distances. Attraction, see,
flashes into conflict

“Quakers. They believe in Jesus, don’t they?” is how
she starts revealing she’s Jewish, from New York City,
but Ohio Boy steps back instead of forward, and misses

a third muses, “Relationships are weird. Always weird,”
while wondering if she’s sufficiently brainy to stay him
or just what he might be lacking

all the same, they cover their aces and wild cards,
map their terrain, and
reach out in the music for someone

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


In the early 1990s, when my writing focus returned with a vengeance to poetry, I found myself drafting in a fevered few weeks the 60 pieces that span the Braided Double-Cross collection.

Soon, I was drawing on many of the images and phrases for two alternative series, one of them being Blue Rock, with its own structure and style, and the other being Long Stemmed Roses in a Shattered Mirror, released last year.

Many of the poems, presented as “Crossings,” have appeared widely in small literary journals around the world. Now, for the first time, they’re presented complete, as originally intended.


Braided Double-Cross

Braided Double-Cross

Enjoy this collection and more at Thistle/Flinch editions.



Ever seen a squirrel caught in a bramble?
A seeming escape leading nowhere?
He could tell you.

*   *   *

He could tell you
he’s lucky to still be alive.

*   *   *

There are those who insist love is nothing more
than a seasonal disorder, an allergy or a virus.
Makes sense when you’re speaking of Sick With Love.
But how do you cope dealing with females
happier with thorns than leaves and berries?
Or when confronted by some dog?

*   *   *

Running along a phone line, a squirrel
never falls over. To hell with gravity.
It’s the strength of those long, skinny toes
can reach around a stick. Hold tight.

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To read the full set of squirrelly poems,
click here.



Words or appearances often mask deeper, contradictory currents. Sometimes, as they tangle, each knot becomes an aching triangle.

In the throes of romantic passion, a participant will choose one line of argument over the evidence of another. To call him or her a victim is hardly accurate, no matter the pain, even after the heart and mind conflict.

The poems of Braided Double-Cross arise in such obsession, the white-hot tension rather than in some cool quietude years later – the pursuit of a golden ideal and then falling. Call them love poems if you dare.


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


Ants swarm over a sugar maple’s
spigot and sap bucket.

In earth and in air, green spirals

Poem copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full Green Repose collection,
click here.