May 8, 2018

“Seismometers Feverish & Blue” and “My Truth” by Joanne W. James

“Seismometers Feverish & Blue” and “My Truth” by Joanne W. James


the clock is black and ticking gold-flecked velvet inside
this mystery earth

fringed-edged mycelium push out for miles underground
one mushroom the entrance to our world

mycelium not fragile
attuned like seismometers
acey fungal
veil holding strong

over molten core

the core where I live

there’s so much difficulty
in burning

I always took it for granted
that your heart I’d melt

those years my heart was lava
in the time of the rooster
in the time of the coconut
when we couldn’t make it
to the bed we’d take it
on the kitchen floor

when the ground moves in increments
our hearts seismometers feverish and blue
I learned that what burns with such intensity
has fragility

your mouth my delicacy

root hairs that push us out of ourselves
into another’s arms push us cross country

or into outer space    given wings
in the time of acacia when I knew
how to whip cream with sugar

in the time of no furniture

when passion left us in a darkened space
suicide and rage     dispossessed

we left our past in ashes
there’s an eon of time between us now

even if we beg    beg
to get back    back    inside
the heart is dumb


never answering why

in the time of the chauffer
in the time of the nurse
in the time of a tow truck &
an empty gas tank

tiny mushrooms growing
in our Seabright apartment
in the corner of the living room

in the time of a century ago
in the losses of a lifetime
in the storyteller’s ache
in what I can and cannot swallow

when you stole me away

when I forced you to follow


Between what I thought life would be and the tearing of the fabric of life
lies my truth:

I never travelled through India or saw the Ellora and Ajanta caves, threw sacred colored
dust on Di Wali, saw
the burning ghats on the Ganges

I never studied with Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman at Naropa
in The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics
even though I was accepted with a poem called Rats

I never thought I’d find true love that doesn’t end and I have

I never went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown     Yet

I never saw Pearl Jam in concert even though I stood in back of The Catalyst

I never had a smart phone    I didn’t want to

Once I got out of the car with my best friend and ran towards a lake in the Adirondacks
we were going to be impulsive and brave and jump in with our clothes on
we got to the edge of the lake and saw all of this crappy algae
we stopped short

I never jumped in that lake    I never had much bravado with anything physical

I did ride on the back of a reckless lover’s Honda 500
we were speeding    weaving    in and out of traffic
I stared at the asphalt the whole damn time and thought
I’m gonna die

when we made a stop in Cazenovia I told her I couldn’t get back on that bike without
several shots of tequila in me

I never would have believed earthquake    chronic illness and cancer would be part of my

I have a red clarinet    want to learn klezmer    or lay on my back
like Patti Smith and let it blow

this time squeaks and squawks will not be mistakes

I never thought I’d plead for mercy

I never stayed in Iowa City and completed my work on a degree in philosophy

I never was in academe although I thought that was what my life would be

I never thought I’d touch Emily Dickinson’s shawl surreptitiously

then hear the guide say    please don’t touch anything in this room

I thought I’d receive a message     I never received a message

I never read Dracula or Frankenstein

I never find anywhere I’m accepted when I say I’m a mystic

I never made Christmas cookies

I never knew how true I’d be to my dreams when I had to change course

I never was a spendthrift or a gambler

I never thought I’d have a lesbo-crush on Dave Grohl

I never thought I’d title my first book Fish Dreams

I never thought I’d be the first to follow the path of my Jewish ancestors

I never thought I’d find that River of Light

or the Sturgeon Moon    the Red Moon

never thought I’d understand
the Swallower of Millions    the Great Tree of Peace    the Hemlock Society
the Neptune Society    an ocean filled with cremains

I never went over Niagara Falls in a barrel

I never thought I’d reach The Temple of the Ancients

Hunbatz Men    Mayan Daykeeper taught us how to ride out an earthquake

instead I was thrown against the wall the floor the doorway and
all of the windows of my life up until that moment shattered

these are the accidents of my biography    there are cracks flaws squeaks and squawks
chicken scratch and flowing rivers    fireworks    weedy patches

and that long stretch of train tracks we see going into NYC    where miles of wrecked
buildings are covered

by the graffiti of the story of my life

* * *
About Joanne W. James:
Treasure hunter, philosopher, yogi, mystic & poet who studied at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Co-creator of women’s writing collective, Tribe Through Time, with poet, Patti Sirens. Fish Dreams, Or, St. Anthony’s Sermon, book-length poem pub. 2004 by Mellen Press as prize winner, “Poetry as Ecstatic Vision”. Also; Lingo, American Writing, Many Mountains Moving, and others.
Seismometers Feverish & Blue

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