Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

Tag: Relationships


Rouge on lips or toenails, the glimmer of gold jewelry or a gemstone, the glossy photograph or the slick magazine, the light in a drop of costly perfume, the shimmer in a particular weave or pattern of spectacular cloth, or the haute (hoity-toity) air of a trendy boutique: each reflects eternal desires and feminine intrigue. The interplay of status-seeking, gamesmanship, the swift-changing hunt, and the theater of fashion spreads out far from its urban epicenters – and crosses nations, languages, continents, and ages. How quickly a little girl insists on her own definitive style! The poet and poetry are not immune, either, infused with their own tastes and passions. Where a dictionary observes  gloss as “the luster or sheen of a polished surface,” there is also the danger of “a deceptive or superficial appearance” as well as “an effort to hide or attempt to hide (errors, defects, etc.).” Still, a gloss may also attempt to interpret or translate. The curve or the motion, the smile or the gaze, skin itself, or hair in sunlight or moonlight, each concealing while hinting of revelations. So often, awaiting next month’s editions.

These are the poems that conclude my newest collection, Foreign Exchange.


Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange

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


Of course complications disrupt and delay
the old house transaction could be an omen
nothing they undertake together would be as simple
as any movie

Of course the vacillation impeded
the insertion of daffodil and hyacinths bulbs from
cobwebbed dreams His Lady of Two Daughters considered
gardens by ambition and suspense

Of course they passed papers and camped overnight
in the empty century-old house a porcelain faucet handle
shattered in His Lady of Mount Olive’s hand nearly severing
her thumb on his birthday like a blood sacrifice sprinkling
the wood floors and they wondered about
her lacking medical insurance, as well

Of course they had no way of foreseeing
the coming weeks his lists and plans
only the beginning as for omens he’d recognize
together resolutely for the long haul

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



People typically listen with their heads, attentive to logic and thought, or with their hearts, to feeling and insinuation. But there’s also a frequently untapped ability to listen with one’s hands, as I recognized at a Susan Stark concert in Brunswick, Maine. There, two Quaker pastors from Kenya (themselves excellent, forceful singers) sat with arms flexed out before them, as if each held an invisible beach ball squeezed slowly. They were appraising the vibration of the room, the presence of Holy Spirit moving. This time, the current was plentiful and active. Try it, in public – at a governmental hearing, a poetry reading, a concert or play, a sporting event – and you, too, may observe how the sense of each occasion may differ. Watch a master carpenter or a first-rate baker, as well, to see how hands ponder a task, running ahead of mental comprehension. A musician often seems to hear music through the fingers, as if playing, even when no instrument is present. Perhaps a surgeon does the same with medicine.

The impression shapes the central section of Foreign Exchange, my newest collection of poems. Please feel them for yourself. These poems celebrate  movement perceived through a Third Ear, between the hands. The tactile response.


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



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.



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.



plant and weed     beside the kitchen     and
the forerunner of a fern bed     behind lilacs

on the swampy side     ignore omens     asking

the real question

if you’ll ever cry      Where are we going?
“it’s a big mistake”     Going     where?

my earth sinks / would always sink     if

it weren’t for stones     floating to the surface

each winter

land bridge jeopardy

cruel ground

stone soup     rather than potato     I intended
to tame     with compost, yes      and worming

so it was     holes in dirt     with next year’s
garden already planned out     she’s ready
to hear    I’ve never been fond of mowing
a lawn     but take to composting anyway

digging in

royally singing     in praise of red wigglers

like a man

so truly      the Cadillac

on my daily

extending the scale      new construction
along all his options     have me wondering
how the routes would be     by the time
I retire

what will be planted     where forest was

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


clapping dragon – prayer banner
blessing the northern wind:
Indra, Vayu, and Varuna
with brooding swirls
to drum our roofs and nurse
our earth.
gather us
in logs
thundering rain
– with Handel and Bach
we speak of broad leaves
and our friends:
within jagged walls
brushed white –
this reassembled skin,
its rice paper sphere
and we take tea. minor elegance
rough wood improves –
the drenching opens
unnamed doors
in Monday’s clover
and Tuesday’s spruce –
drowns the shrew-mouse
on Wednesday’s trail –
awakens sleeping polychromes.
makes pokeberry tall
beyond our yard.
shakes tulips from twigs
and fattens swamps.
urges telegrams of morning birds
to break our sleep –
rumbles within our karst –

as current
entering swallow holes
will rise where mills
once twirled
soft wheat.

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




now I lay me down to weep

 why, we always see the squirrel as playful
rather than tragic

or desperately terrified

a kite in the sky

*   *   *

if getting anywhere were only that easy
or direct

*   *   *

Survival is the first law.
But which Self?

To be hungry
and clever
are a dangerous combination.

Especially when cornered.

*   *   *

layered in trees           wires   roofs and decks
the predominant wild mammal of the city
mocks dogs, mauls cats
stands more visible than rats

bolts a zig-zag route at ground level
where pigeons walk in circles

*   *   *

some creatures are more monogamous

and some fear their young

some, helpless and afraid
have no way of knowing

*   *   *

To find yourself on the other end
of a hungry
and clever

even if it’s only trying to get in

is the basis of law two.

*   *   *

zoology and physics, a most interesting combination

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



in the end, we miss the freezing rain
that becomes fog in treetops on my commute
over melting snow

still achy from gardening
so what do I know?
a touch of lime oil in my morning coffee

green swags
my windows

watch my back and sides
all that digging

a full month of April showers compresses
into thirty-six hours Monday and Tuesday
welcome relief, but

uproot a hundred stealth maples
and a squirrel
every day
this time of year

the garden looks great, so luxurious to have cut flowers indoors
a second sprig of laurel in my lair
against the deep velvet of Siberian iris
now we’re sinking to detail …

a bucket of strawberries, to the office

too much rain and the sump pump kicks in
a downpour leading to rare July flood warnings across the state

our Lady of Pink Flamingoes keeps taunting
“Have you been flocked?”

such a strange summer
cold, wet July days
rain and thunderstorms forecast
into next week, without break

my Lady of Coriander had the stove going three days

by Bastille Day, still no time in the 90s
and only a few in the upper 80s

where’s it going, our summer of plastic flamingos?

or the alternative, of very humid, stale air –
80 Fahrenheit, 80 percent humidity –
can’t move much
despite intentions

some sun, some rain
including brief downpours

the continuing decay

I mow the lawn, saturate a T-shirt in sweat
of course, it’s extreme high tide at the beach

1 a.m., bedroom windows open

thinking of the past
I smell a skunk
crossing the darkness
below me

into a lazy day, mostly on the deck

frozen daquiris, relief from 90-plus heat/humidity

the first time in five years

profusion of glorious mock orange
in and over the kitchen garden hedge
just because I watch the stars
doesn’t mean I trust them

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


meets the ocean

the way lovers

before or after

Copyright 2015 by Jnana Hodson
To continue, click here.