Clowns and Angels

I’m not sure it matters anyway
what we wonder
what we mean to say.

I’m not sure it matters
don’t you know
what we fear or where we go.

But there are clowns and angels
everywhere teaching leaves
to tumble down and birds

to dare to claim the sky
and showing roses how to turn
their faces fade and die.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Well this doesn’t feel right for Easter but what can you do? It’s the most close to ready piece in the notebook. And I like the cadence and the weird rhyme between the third and last stanzas. I don’t use rhyme much but sometimes I like to experiment.

Happy Easter. I hope the bunny or higher power of your conception made timely delivery of whatever peace, happiness, or sense of purpose you needed most.

Old Hawks

The red-tailed hawk turns
on a thermal above the wild
brushy ground and cries

There is nothing you need
Nothing is precious but time
Nothing is worth dying for but love
Nothing is worth living for but peace
Nothing belongs to you but now

I have lived with this mystery
for so many years:

Where do old hawks go to die?

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Human Life

Below is the last poem I wrote in 2022; it was a lean year for creative output, to say the least. My bad. And I don’t know if anyone is still reading this blog. At one time it had 7,000 subscribers but I have been neglectful. I hope that 2023 will be better. One of the things I’ve been trying to teach myself is that writers/poets have to practice their scales just like musicians. Of course that means setting boundaries, protecting the hour or so a day that’s the bare minimum for doing anything with one’s life. And the people around me don’t respond well to boundaries. They see spending time living the life you’re working to make a living to have as a reward for being successful enough that you don’t have to work. Which is like saying a farmer can’t harvest any of his crop unless he harvests enough to throw some away.

I see life differently. I believe that we’re born to live a certain secret amount of time, and that every moment of that time belongs completely to the person whose life it is. Not one second ever belongs to anyone else. It’s ridiculous to think you have to borrow some of it back from your employer, or your family. You don’t have to justify your self-expression, how you spend your time, or deny the fact that being not busy doesn’t mean being available. You should keep your promises and support others, but you haven’t promised to be with them all the time, and they haven’t promised to pay you what your life is worth.

How infinite and amazing a human life is, and how completely we reduce every life we see – even our own – to its most basic appearances. It’s tempting to see only the surface: the hair, the tattoos, the piercings, the clothes, the secondary sex characteristics. When I see people, I try to see the sadness, the gladness, the pain, the fears and hopes and history that has all brought them to their Now.

The way we see each other and our fleeting lives is like looking at a distant galaxy and saying well, that’s not quite enough light to read a menu by. And it makes me sad and I can’t communicate in words how much life is worth loving, how much people are worth their freedom and the celebration and defense of their solitude.

Happy New Year

Human Life

Thinking about a human life
makes all the light held by time
retreat to the distant corners of the mind.
Time can’t imagine such a life, can’t
can’t hold it, and time can’t set it free.
Eternity is the only – oh, so lonesome –
measure of a thought.

And how can I love you, who
never arrived, was never found,
barely sought: the walled garden
unmapped in any world?
But I do, I have so for long.
I swear to die with your secret name
still forming in my thoughts.

If I see the surface of the ocean
and think I know what lies beneath,
I must be ready to accept a slow death
by thirst, shivering and steeped
in a cold mist. Eight billion lives
is so many infinite worlds.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed


But for the time being I am in the center of everything that screams and teems.
And it’s subtle as the most intangible reality.
For now time is the duration of a thought.

Clarice Lispector
Agua Viva

Boomer is living on borrowed time.
He has very little he can call his own,
so he borrows as much as he can.
It arrives from the sky in tiny packages
that glance off the struggling grass,
brush his face and become exactly
the just-now moment of a thought.

Boomer is in love with words,
even their droplets of darkness.
All night and sometimes in the day
he mumbles words. He conjures
them out of paper and they
skitter and lurch away into short
lives, meaning nothing to anyone
but him. When he sleeps the words
fall out of line and make a run
back toward chaos. And they are
glad to be scattered. They were
no good for each other.  

Boomer wakes and looks around
and laughs – he knows he’ll find
his words again beyond the deep
blue channel, past the islands,  
outside of time. And also dogs.

Boomer will be an excellent ghost.
He loves to be quiet. He’ll be a spirit
of wood – of furniture and windowsill –
the vague squeak of a floorboard
when no one living is up and moving
through the dark house. A phantom
of ambiguity and a slight tingle
in the nerves. So he practices
being forgotten and unnamed.

Boomer will be a friend to sleeping cats,
focusing puddles of sunlight on the rugs.
His thoughts will float like motes of dust
and make the room a little sad,
though no one will remember why.
And somewhere in eternity,
old Boomer will be asleep in his words.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Oh! My (for lack of a better word) God
You who are if I am not,
You who are not if I am,
for for that matter both and neither,
I pray to you the unnamable, 
incomprehensible Being, 
for peace, for consolation in my
inexorable solitude, for my life 
to light (even if weakly) the lives 
of those I touch and hold fast, 
for my moment in the space
of time to do no damage,  
cause no suffering,
abridge no freedom, 
and then for me to be forgotten 
in the long birthnight
of mystery and oblivion.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Let’s Discuss Books

Since I’m not generating much polished work product these days, I thought we might try tackling the subject of books. I’m thinking I’ll start a series of posts about the books I’m enjoying. Also, links to booktube channels on YouTube where I find great recommendations.

I read more than I write. I’ve read a number of good books so far this year, and I’m currently reading a lot more. My current reading list has gotten way out of control, but it’s all so good that I don’t want to move any of these down to my reading later list.

I guess I’m what people call a mood reader. I don’t stick with one thing and finish it; I read whatever I’m in the mood to read. Also, some books seem to fit into a certain general time of day. For example, Great Expectations is a prime time book. I read it in the evening sometimes, instead of streaming video for a while. The Book of Disquiet, Collected Fictions, and Decreation aren’t novels and they’re better closer to bedtime.

This is my current list of books for 2022. This isn’t my collection, just what what I’m reading now, expect to read this year, and what I’ve recently completed.

I’m currently reading:

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa
Season of Migration to the North -Tayeb Salih
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (1818)
Collected Fictions – Borges
Decreation – Anne Carson
The Iliac Crest – Cristina Rivera Garza
Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson
Cathedral of Mist – Paul Willems
Seeking Slow – Melanie Barnes
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Journal of a Novel – John Steinbeck

Recently Completed Books

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Murakami
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata
Snow – Orhan Pamuk
The Book Thief – Marjus Zusak
Pedro Paramo – Juan Rulfo
Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Sense of an Ending
The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

Books Waiting on My Shelves

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
Letters to a young Poet – Rilke
The Remains of the Day – Ishiguro
When we were Orphans – Ishiguro
The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
The Alienist – Machado de Assis
The Waves – Virginia Wolf
Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Things Fall Apart – Achebe, Chinua
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
The Memory Police – Yogo Ogawa
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
Dark Tales – Shirley Jackson
The Legend of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
The Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
Quiet – Susan Cain
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Count of Monte Christo – Alexandre Dumas
The Best of Richard Matheson
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas – Machado de Assis
Collected Stories of William Faulkner
Absalom! Absalom – William Faulkner
Sixty Stories – Donald Barthelme
Emma – Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Eugene Onegin – Pushkin
Frankenstein in Baghdad -Ahmed Saadawi
The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
The Snow Leopard – Matheson
Don Quixote – Cervantes
A Gentleman in Moscow –
Where the Crawdads Sing
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Dark Interval – Rilke

Blood Moon Rising

We were never lovers and I don’t know
if that means everything or nothing
since so much of everything I imagine
remembering is meaningless now.
It’s not important but maybe

I saw the moon one night last week.
Alone, I just stood there and thought
it looked strange, smoky as it rose
over Rincon. Later I realized
I’d unseen the blood moon in its flight.

My mind was somewhere else while
Earth threw a bloody shadow
on its bone china innocence.
(The only place that Man has ever
reached and not committed murder.)

But why did you take my hand
that night in the college parking lot
under the oak trees, interlacing
your perfect young fingers with mine,
if everything means nothing?

Never mind: I’m too old now to
misunderstand the maimings of love.
The great eye of the moon looks
down from eternity and they say
we’re meeting on the other side.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed


The maimings of love are endlessly funny,
as are the tiny figures of talking animals,
being blown to pieces in cartoons.
~ Gilbert Sorrentino, The Moon in its Flight

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs.…
A poem should not mean   
But be.
~ Archibald Macliesh, Ars Poetica


It’s national poetry month and I have some things indolently percolating in the notebook but nothing ready to post just yet. But the month is about to end and I’m nothing if not sensitive to the pressures of the calendar. So here’s a better poem, but the great mystical poet W.S. Merwin. It’s been living in the back of my mind since the 1980s, when it first occurred to me that it applies to me. I was in college studying literature when it was published so I probably saw it hot off the press. Those were days in ways that today and yesterday were not, if you know what I mean.

I’ll try to get one of those new poems up by the weekend but no promises. I don’t think any of us is responding well to pressure these days. We know the consequences of our actions only in the protractions of time.

Things and Stuff

Things and stuff on my mind.

  • Survival mode
  • Shared life/Private life balance (boundaries)
  • Mindfulness in the Midst of Calamity
  • The (unconditional) Beauty of Others
  • Love in the Time of Corona
  • War and Chaos
  • The Persistent Illusion of Time

“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien

What have you been pondering?

Shining Eyes

On every screen we see
the smoke climbing
reaching for the pity of Christ
and we realize
they dress their babies
just like Americans
their children have the same
expressions of uncomprehending
fear, the same shine
reflecting the pastures of Heaven
in their Ukrainian eyes
and is this some kind of trick?

I watch news in small doses
because plague time
has compressed my life as well
and my dull eyes fill with tears
because this is pure evil
and someday a screaming
may come across the sky for all of us.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

I made a few new year’s resolutions, which aren’t going well so far. I intended to focus on every good opportunity to shut the f–k up and stop giving unsolicited advice, to stop sharing opinions about choices or situations outside my own responsibility and control, and to write positive, grateful, hopefully uplifting poems. I’m still taking when nobody – least of all me – wants to hear me, still opining about things that are up to others from my family to global psychotic dementors like Voldemort Pootin’, and here’s another dark sad poem.

It’s not my fault. I would have been more than happy to write an ode to the wind clouds hovering over the coastal range this morning, and I’m not the demonpuke bombing innocent, defenseless people. Art has to meet the world where it is and tell the truth.

I would have been happy. I’m not sure I can see an opening in the funhouse mirrors of protracted chaos to find the exit to happy tonight but I can close my eyes and find reasons for gratitude. That’s something; in fact, it’s a lot. I’ll take it, gratefully, and hold fast to hope for the survivors of the massacre in Ukraine. Maybe they can use our hope more than our sadness and faith more than anger.