The Elements

In the forest you belong to the trees
and the trees will behold you
as you come and go.
In the desert you belong to the rocks,
the hard earth, and the sun.
The shadows in the long valley
have shadows and the lights
from the houses reflect
from the asphalt if it rains.

I don’t know which element
we belong to here.
Is it the ocean, or the mountains,
or the broad curves of sand?
To which do we retire when it’s time?
Now there is only the celebrating sky
or the dull overcast of coastal air.
No help for the soul to find its way.
I think that we will have to wait and see.

Another in what seems to be a series of poems exploring the concept of place as spiritual corollary. I think it’s interesting that over the years I’ve repeatedly postulated that the place where I live, though beautiful, is less intrinsically spiritual than other places I’ve been. That has to be because I’m used to living here, that I don’t see what I want to find here, beyond the visual. There must be a reason why a vision quest traditionally involves going out, away from the place where the spiritual seeker lives. A vision quest in my own hometown isn’t easy.


J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed


Sleepy Little Dog

I begin to write: the little dog
is sleeping by the door, breathing
the sour dampness of the yard,
her paws moving slightly, dreaming
of rabbits and the taste of grass….

I have come to know this pen,
the weight of it, the point
which must be turned just so.
The cheap gold pitted
by the sweat of my hands.

My pen is hard and cold;
with it, I can write only words.
Your voice and even least
amazing smile are lost
to the physics of thought.

The ink I use is black.
I used all the blue for failing at love.
I thought love was soft color,
carousel horses and a rainy day.
But maybe it’s arc light and violence,
a tiger and a spray of blood.

So I was wrong, and this old
pen is useless, dead
without the rhythm of your step
and the flight of your hands.
But now it’s all I have, because
the dog has drifted off to sleep.


J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Note: This is an older poem. It’s been published in print before. But I wanted to share a link and couldn’t find where I had posted it on this blog before. Weird. 


If I had only film for one picture
I would hand the camera
to a stranger passing by
and have them point it back at us.
I don’t want to be left out.
Get us all with the sun
on our faces as it sets
and the sky behind us darkening blue.
Don’t miss anyone, not even
the beloved dead,
captured as a shimmer among the roses.
Not even the lost and unborn,
whose story is twilight
and the streetlights coming on.



J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

May Gray

The poets are all growing younger
than me, awake as holy light
descends in a gray morning.
The ring neck dove stands
on the peak of the house
and calls for a mate. The sun climbs
and I sleep on, and the black dog
watches over everyone.
Another day of fishing boats
that pass unseen in a dull fog.
The young poets have been up
all night, traveling from light to light.

The gloom of May and the rains
that brought us fear bring new grass
to the hills. I will not be afraid
of storms anymore, or of hatred,
which is nothing. Nor am I afraid
of ghosts. I need someone to
remember with or the memory
is lost. We talk about twilight
in vineyards, and the odor of grapes.

The children are in school today.
I hope they will learn geometries
of love beyond three dimensions;
learn that someday they will live
and talk with ghosts; that pain
can be endured for a moment
or a cause; that change is a promise
that the world never breaks;
that old people never hurry the clock,
even when summer is coming
with a thrum of bees.



J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Memory Fades


“Time passes. Memory fades, memory adjusts,
memory conforms to what we think we remember.”
― Joan Didion, Blue Nights


So many things I believe I remember.
Like a walk in the forest, the stellar jays,
chipmunks, the sound of a stream.
Like standing in a cold city rain, wondering
how life would go for me when
I was older, when I had the means;
tilting my head back and letting it come.
Like lying on the floor with an old dog
and crying, helpless, the Nightland
pressed to the windowpanes, learning
that time falls away like a waterfall.
Like spending a night alone searching
memory for symbols of meaning
in late summer of a life that eludes
meaning, eludes flowers and wine,
and has settled like mud
into a comfortable bed of memories.
Like not loving you enough.
Like waking up after you were gone.
Oh God, I have slept through my life.



J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

So We Believe

Some nights we go to bed sad.
All the lights dim across America,
all the sparklers dipped in a midnight
kind of pain that puts them out.
Then all night it’s cold in the mountains
and across the great desolate land,
a blue wind coming down from high
places, from snow, through aspen
and pine, and it’s hard to sleep.

In the morning there is dove light
again, dishwater clouds.
The traffic moves, dogs bark,
the people rise and fling themselves
into argument – the great debate
of right and wrong – as children
go to school and probably survive.
So we believe there is a God
and it’s not us.


J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Happy Easter

I gave myself a few nice little presents for Easter this year, each one better than the ears off a chocolate bunny. Let me tell you about them because they might inspire similar gifts you could give yourself, and it doesn’t have to be a holiday.

First, I gave myself 30 days off Facebook. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and when I got up this morning and saw atheist trolls bullying Christianity on Easter, I knew it was the perfect day. I’ve always said that the bug that allows Facebook users to see what their friends are “liking” and commenting on elsewhere, even if their friends don’t actually share it, is a bad bug. Well, an old friend of mine was commenting on atheist pages, which caused me to be able to see these horrible things. It was bad. Stupid blasphemy in my feed. The only thing worse is when religious people try to force others to practice their religion.

So I activated an app in my PC that will block me from logging on to Facebook until noon on May 1. And I deleted the app from my phone. I’m out for the first time in 9 years. Feels better already.

Second, I wrote a poem for Easter. Here it is. This poem is for my Mom and Dad.


The universe is confusing.
I’m trying to see the next right thing
and light goes off on a tangent.
Then there’s paradox: Truth
is always two things or many things
all real, all believable
or nothing all at once.

Why is there so much water
all around and so many things
that can’t breathe it? Why haven’t
dogs learned to talk yet?
What is Time, falling and flowing
and standing in puddles that reflect
the face of an infinite grief?

How could God make something
so soft and weak and full
of wet fragility and selfish hope,
so many of us all alike, then
love each and every one unto
death and into Eternity?

Look, there comes sunrise now
and flowers, spring sempiternal
as the planet spins, dragged
through the void by a star
fleeing everything, bound for nowhere.
We ought to be grateful for the ride,
whatever we are, born on our way
to somewhere else.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Third, I used part of my Easter free time to draw a picture of a tree. I haven’t tried to draw a tree since art class in junior high school, in 1974. But I remember I liked doing it. I remember the art teacher, Mr. Hinton, came to my piano recital. Which was a pretty damn nice thing for a teacher to do in his free time. Nice guy.

It’s a humble tree- it’s bottom-heavy and it needs a lot more leaves – but not terrible for the first try in 44 years. I enjoyed it so I’ll probably do it again and get better at it, right? Just like with writing, practice makes possible. And if at first you don’t succeed, skydiving probably isn’t for you.

Tree 2018-04-01 14.34a

Christ is Risen.