Friday 6 January 2023

Five Poems by Nate Jacob

 




Mortgaging Paradise

 

I sit back at the corner table

            scratching out rhymes and reasons

            to everything I can’t seem to explain.

            including Love and Death because

            any poet worth any salt at all

            insists on dealing with the same incomprehensible

            unexplained mysteries that Adam and Eve themselves

                        never figured out, 900 years in…

 

But mostly I am listening,

            straining to hear past the hipsters and

            the coffee shop worshippers.

 

Two tables away, in the dim and warmth,

            is a young couple in earnest meeting

            with a dapper and aloof mortgage agent.

            Based on the body language and the tense tones,

            it seems better advised for these lovers

            to meet with a less-well-dressed therapist,

            or perhaps with some black-frocked priest,

            assuming they believe in that sort of thing,

            who can help them to get along in life

            before getting too far along into life.

 

My collective generation can ill fathom these youngsters

            with their incapacity for whispering in public

            when the topic is finances or irreconcilable differences.

            But tonight, I am grateful for their originality,

            for their impertinent sleight which serves as

            welcomed distraction from writing

                        about love and death, and

                        Death and Love.

 

Do you remember buying our first home?

            Beyond our means and in over our heads,

            but driven by an endless sleepless fog of

            recent parenthood coupled foolishly with

            six hundred twenty-two square feet

of newlywed living arrangements,

            A blissful purgatory, indeed.

            We made a rash decision and reached for the fruit,

                        dangled cunningly by some snake-skinned agent.

 

We set fire that day to limited budgets and reasoned means,

            choosing instead to make an offering

            to the gods of our own suburban Eden,

            with garage space for two, and two full baths.

                        The key selling point, presented

                        by that fork tongued realtor:

                        A garden tub…with a view of Paradise

 

 

Bright Eyes and a Cloud of Coffee

 

Words haven’t come by in some time,

since the world took to shutting down,

if in fact they ever did.

It’s been so long, frankly, that I doubt it.

My studio door is shamelessly propped

so welcomingly wide that

the hinges are beginning to ping,

but the words don’t come to me here,

and while I find this set of circumstances

interesting enough, I can’t write

one damned thing about it.

Something is keeping them away...

 

I pull the car up close, lean in a bit

too familiar to the intercom,

bright eyes and bushy tails

despite the gathering rain,

and never mind the fact that

I really don’t even want a coffee.

I just need a barista’s caffeinated voice

to awaken my Pavlovian poetics,

so, I simply say hello...Hello?

 

I pull to the window and, incapable of

waiting for them to come to me,

I lean through my car window

shoulders-deep into the Cafe drive-up

to breathe in the thick atmosphere of

my former and future writing space,

denied recent entry by a general viral fear

and a nascent sociability marked lately by

distance and too much suspicion.

 

And there I saw them, too comfortably seated

in and around the worn leather armchair

alongside an unlit fireplace, quarantined,

reciting themselves, clever and witty and

cooperative in their own estimation,

but sadly, for now, beyond me,

though after this visit to the coffee studio

I will sleep all the better knowing

that those words, mine, are going nowhere,

and that I still know where to find them.


 

Barista as Superhero

 

I don’t actually even drink coffee,

it hurts my stomach, makes my heart

rattle in my chest, my mind a mess

and my breath a stink. But my art

 

demands that I abandon the self,

take a look at the world through cracks

between my ledge and other beings’ edges,

tell off the lights and write from the darks

 

which blind me and obscure everything.

The hero barista begs to differ, sees it all

through joe-coloured glasses, bright eyes

for a wandering fool looking to avoid the fall.

 

And for the falling and the fallen alike,

the promise of warm cups and warmer smiles

is often enough, so far, to keep us all on our ledges,

a barista’s power to set us at ease, at least for a while.

 

 

The Heart Wants

 

Yeah

it’s so painful.

At least today.

         And yesterday.

The paths have

              diverged. Breaking apart.

But we are both monastics.

Me,

In the basement,

           secretly.

He,

       at the bottom of the hill

       where he takes care of the

        nuns and they bring

        coffee to his hut

         in a paper cup

          every morning.

That’s all I know.

And that his weather is perfect   

       every single day,

and the sun sets at the exact 

     time every day.

He can count on the sun’s perfect timing.

But I’m in the North

       where there’s another    

       blizzard to torment me.

To death.

And Spring

       should be here

        in a few

          minutes.

But I’m cold

and tired

and not

feeling it.

And looking forward to

        my next scan.

I thought my heart might have been healed

but today it feels

       broken. Like it broke

        just yesterday.

But it broke in Zurich almost

      2 years ago.


 

A Senseless Joke

 

My son told the old one about the blind man

wildly swinging his seeing-eye dog by the tail

in the middle of some China shop, a joke

which has awakened in me a certain level

of senseless indignation, since, as you know,

 

I lost my sense of Smell a year ago,

and it’s faithful companion Taste, too. Both

agreed to stay away as long as it would take

for me, their former host, to come at last to

my ever-loving senses, though I don’t know how.

 

Now, I wonder why I don’t have a smelling-nose cat

Leading out on a stylish leash, sniffing at the breeze,

keeping me safe from gas leaks of all kinds,

alerting me to fresh donuts and warm bread,

steering us wide of people with body odor.

 

And how am I yet without a tasting-tongue lemur?

Its refined palette tuned to sample my foods,

giving me certain queues for when I should moan

in gustatory ecstasy because the rosemary dances,

or when I should spit out the salted, not sugared, coffee.

 

My wife, too, is seeking relief and companionship

in form of the rarely seen listening-ear tortoise,

because after five months of inner ear infection,

she hardly even attempts to listen to my complaints

about the bland, uninspired fare at the new Italian place.

 

Mind you, it hasn’t deprived her of hearing. Not entirely.

She has simply sat patiently for too long now, in her own pain,

nodding with me in feigned agreement about how weak

the bouquet of lilac blooms was this spring, and how mild

is the normal haze and stench of the sugar beet harvest.

 

That tortoise could respond instead, slow and considered,

to my never-ending rants about how my once-charmed life

has lost so much of its savour of late, how so little makes sense.

With her ears free of my complaints, she can enjoy her carbonara,

while I at least have the tortoise, who seems sympathetic to me.




Nate Jacob is a chef, a chauffeur, a nurse, a counselor, a tutor, a home repairman, a janitor, and the list goes on, because Nate is a stay-at-home father to six children, a stay-at-home husband to one spouse, and a poet in the tiny spaces in between. He tends to write while in carpool pickup lanes (proof that humanity has yet to fully evolve), as well as at local coffee shops and libraries in the great state of Idaho. He writes a lot about fatherhood and family, hoping to make some sense of it all between dinner time and bedtime. Mostly, Nate needs a nap. Please find a few of his published poems at ratsassreview.net, streetlightmag.com, and verse-virtual.org.

 


3 comments:

  1. I love this collection—you have inspired me to cut back on coffee and also have more of it! You have inspired me to cherish the smells of life—even the bad ones! And it’s wonderful to see how even the mundane (mortgages and coffee drive-thrus) can inspire poetry. Bravo!!!

    ReplyDelete

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