Jnana's Red Barn

A Space for Work and Reflection

WHATEVER THE NEXT STAGE

the Late Quartets
meaning, always, Beethoven
always attended most intensely
late at night
alone

something here liberated from audience
or sound itself
or even emotion or intellect, solely
some pure essence
released within four players’ labor

~*~

the labor has me thinking
of Stephen Foster, his two strands of work
the minstrel songs that provided
his income and reputation
but his parlor art songs from his depth

yes, I’m far more compartmentalized

journalism, poetry, fiction, religion, et al

~*~

imagining my own funeral
a performance of Schubert’s string quintet
or a hymn-sing
if not my Quaker silence with vocal
messages therein
whatever the next stage

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

LEVIATHAN, AS AN EMBLEM

1

now to see
North Atlantic
in my sphere

landlocked
till twenty-eight

that week, camping tide-to-tide
beside North Pacific

and you speak of turning to Christ?

2

who found the eagle in the desert canyon
and high mountains
before the Upper Mississippi
or Great Falls of the Potomac?

still, moose fail to inspire me
as elk did

3

whales, then
rather than moose
in contrast to elk of the Yakima Valley

this mirror of historic economy

besides, moose and whales do not leave tracks
everywhere we trek here,
unlike the elk out west

to say nothing of ticks

4

water, defining land
defining water
and the overlap

I want to know what the ocean voices
in its repetition
addressing the absent moon
or distance, even in the erasure

bank of fog
curtain of resounding
fog horn or bell

or vast silence
before

the hundred thousand variations of nor’easter
just off this point

no need to circle the planet

we have our fill of floundering
agents of change

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

LIVELIHOOD

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

In earth and in air, green spirals
uncoil.

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

KARMA LAW OFFICE

she was pregnant
but which of the three
brothers was the father

she was all heartbreak
and sorrow

~*~

an acid-tripping Lutheran seminarian
argued “religion is for today”
as he walked in on his roommate
still atop Pia

~*~

the long-haired blonde with the deep voice
had already been had twice

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015

Three sections from MOTET I

1

pick a language . a religion . a star, somewhere

of what I’ve distrusted
and yet seek

in the night of spring greening
where birds begin arguing (the males, as usual

but listen

good questions
guide better
than many answers

let me relate notations
of elk found on mountains
behind mountains – beside mountains, too
where streams run fast and clear
in everlasting rapture

before they appeared to me in their flesh
before I had children
before you appeared
but now

we’ll argue theology over lunch or dinner
or the menu

but first, grace

2

all this is not the same
as sitting by yourself

not the same as watching
anything

or listening to anything
or tasting anything

you can touch

since you asked, I’ll tell
you everything I know

if you tell me
where you’d like to start

3

to be completely honest
is so simple
you would think

until facing others
until facing yourself

all the temptations
all the screw-ups

all the aspirations
all the ruins to your back

all the idealized masks and labels
you wear
the childhood you’ve never left
all the flattery and self-delusions
all the false accusations you can’t quite shake

all the flaking paint on the siding of your house
all the cracking plaster within

as you age, all the lost years
you deny
all the shortcuts

so much of what your mirror
never reveals

no matter what you say
no matter what they say

the sins of omission
as well as commission

all the skills of a Philadelphia lawyer
all the skills of public office
all the skills of executive decision

any or all

the impossibility of saying exactly who you are
or why

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

GARDEN DIMENSIONS

“They already were like gods
made in Yahweh’s own image
and didn’t even know it.”

“I could see the Woman would be easier
to convince. She appreciated color and
the bouquet, where the Man noticed
only the fruit’s heft and taste.”

Every snake has its own hole.
Sometimes a snake is just as snake,
Doctor Freud.

And the Serpent went on to make a fortune
developing shopping malls lined with retailers
promising to cover everyone’s nakedness.

* * *

God creates a Helper for the Man
and she helps him, all right:
helps him get into trouble,

helps him to the forbidden fruit,
helps him get ejected from Paradise.
Not only that, but I’d venture

she believed she was doing something
beneficial for him all along,
something for his own good.
(And it was very good)

* * *

Where has Eden gone? Maybe
it’s now ahead of us, down
the road, rather than behind
with its gates shut tight.

As for Original Sin,
life’s not fair.
Some parents gamble
away the mortgage,
their children’s
college tuition.
Others get to be boss
through the injustice
of genetic roulette.
But that’s not really
part of this story.

* * *

Where do the other people come from?
Maybe the question becomes, for us,
where do other people COME FROM?
You! My neighbors! My antagonist,
my friend, my spouse, my children?

Perhaps they come from that other couple
God created, in the first creation story,
just before Eden. Perhaps they, too,
are ejected from their own Eden.

Perhaps there were other gardens
that were also released –
the ones whose stories we’ve forgotten.

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

SINGLE ENCOUNTERS

I picked up the receiver

“is your wife around?” pause

“what number did you want”
pause

“I’m sorry . I must have the wrong number”

she sounded so married
I wished there was a wife to answer

~*~

“God-damn idiots, afraid to dirty their hands”
the old woman reiterated
“real work would kill ’em”

~*~

“I want to stop smoking
but I’m a very negative person”

so just recast the proposition
if you really want to stop puffing

To continue, click here.
Copyright 2015

FINGERINGS

many classical musicians regard a score
more through their hands (as instrumentalists)
or the eye, according to the sheet (as composers)
or even the mouth (as singers)
than through the ear, much less the heart.

in that light, Beethoven’s mastery in deafness
should appear no miracle

unlike Charles Ives, off-limits
when the circle needed completion
– without the ripple of applause or engagement
or critical test of application –
only the stone-dead silence of scorn or indifference

let us touch, then, releasing these birds
from rows of ink on a page
as if this were another spring morning

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

OF MASTS, SPARS, AND BROKEN YARDS

1

in moonlight
Cape Ann, two months after the Perfect Storm
maybe three
while standing back on a broad outcropping
25 feet above the roiling and ebb

unpredictably, a wave explodes above me
from behind
washes around my feet

I could have been swept away

so step back, gingerly, if you will

2

driving a ridge, no view of shimmering expanses

between country club and great estates
sand plowed like snow
two feet deep, both sides of the state highway

mixed with kelp

3

nothing to trifle with
this fluid motion
in its hypnotic attraction

all recitative
with cymbals and snare drum

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

GENESIS

Each seed, each root, each bud
unfurls on schedule. Melting
and rain come together.

In the daylight you open
so slowly you do not hear
their snap. Between pale tendril

and miniature leaves, we will gaze,
then, no longer doubting
our own inward spiraling galaxy.

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