Richard Jarrette – Slender Oat Stalks Bow

P Richard Jarrette LE P&W Vol 2 2019

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Poems by Richard Jarrette

Richard Jarrette is author of the poetry collections: Beso the Donkey (Michigan State University Press, 2010), A Hundred Million Years of Nectar Dances (Green Writers Press, 2015), The Beatitudes of Ekaterina (Green Writers Press, 2017), The Pond (Green Writers Press, 2019), and Toward A Hidden River With No Human Name (2020).

He is Poetry Columnist for VOICE Magazine of Santa Barbara, California and resides in the Central Coast Region of California after formative years in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Slender Oat Stalks Bow

Li Po the little boat is gone
that carried you ten thousand ‘li’
downstream past the gibbons calling
all the way from both banks and they
too are gone and the forests they
were calling from and you are gone
and every sound you heard is gone
now there is only the river
that was always on its own way
—W.S. Merwin

The crow cocks an eye at a face known to him
under the hat
because of a puzzle
once left for the birds to solve—

perhaps he’d painted corvid voodoo on the mind of the face
to win both apple and worm with the scrub jays
come near its flesh and shoes
these crow years.


Southern airs brushing my left cheek
from an unknown land of clover honey?

I’ve seen billions of years beyond
the Northern Cross
and I’m still swatting the fat
horse flies.

Autumn sends its palette to the six directions—
I’ve been there and there
sought the wise

signed papers got something
gave something
like the people in their important silver cars

I watch them
and what was written off

Yes breeze
you don’t attend to my scruples
but scars and weathercock
and the hollows.


Laurel branch nods with the weight of mockingbird
rufous sided towhees upturn cracked petals

all heeds as the sun drops below withered hills
night tails hawk fall scrapes the eaves of St. Mark’s

no word again from the children traveling to a funeral
one late hummingbird dives into the firethorn.


Captured by a cloud all day long Tu Mu says
It has no mind at all none and surely no talent.

The meanings to make of this—
not one of them it.

From the untranslatable crawling away and toward

Tu Mu’s and larger than the stride
of my man’s and and .  .  .

than our galaxy exiting its black hole into a baby
universe and its own time

and my star turn as a Nō theater crone.


Mockingbird’s white wing bars flare among
white blossoms and last of the Lady Banks—

streak of wild mastery in the corner of an eye
lit shadows behind the words of T’ao Ch’ien—

vanish in a night in the day of dense evergreen
return when forsaken on the wings of the Swan.


Upland jays at labors
fox and bear on the mountain

volant raptors gyre
golden squirrel and rat aware


Ptolemy’s Draco
Son of Gaia

Guardian of the Golden Apples
of the Hesperides

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

how glad not to step
on your crawling



Quanta of light live a billion times a billion years—
a quintillion—lux near enough aeterna

imperishable communion
just a blink to a photon it’s said.

Li Po says
Nothing left but a river flowing on the borders of heaven.

When I imagine lingering the all of it out
to the all of the way

storm blown pine
tossed fledgling
threadbare heart not most pure in

serene as the one in ten violinist
in tune after murdering the other nine.

© Richard Jarrette