Monday, March 12, 2018


Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

Thresholds are magnificent things.
A wonderment: neither this, nor that.
Are they a place or a time? What is
the in-between?

There are answers that I don't have,
but there are also knowings that I do.
Like: that my favorite threshold 
is the one that I cross when I stop
being a creature of winter and
start becoming a creature of spring.

(c) 2018/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Wonderment: New and Selected Poems" 
A work in progress.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

What is Here

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

What lies ahead
cannot be known,
only imagined,
and sometimes
poorly so.

What is here
must be precious
to us or life is wasted,
this one and
all others.

I think you know
this road, but do
you know even
one piece of gravel
that is its making?

If you desire intimacy
with any part of this
world, stop passing
it by.

A presence.
That longing.

The place you
are is a destination.


© 2018/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Truth and Beauty" (a work in progress)

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Thorny Situation

Art: Mark Collins

Look around and see how this world
is created. How a protective mother owl
chose the acacia branches lined with thorns,
long and intentful, they easily knowing
their singular purpose, impressive when
there’s so much human longing for the same,
and the owlets perched there, not
understanding that they are part metaphor.

"Hooo hoo hooo!”

She could have chosen, let’s say, something
tall and in flower with lovely petals, soft delicate
petals of a particular lovely color, and there might
have been nectar pooled, readied for gravity’s
lapping tongue. That would have gotten me
talking about the spoiled gods of old, but it’s not
necessary, not in this place.

"Hooo hooopoooo!”

If you want to take something from this world,
the situation can get quite thorny and, sometimes,
it really should, but if you want something precious
to belong, to remain as it is, pray for thorns, invoke
thorns, call them your allies. I find this interesting.

“Kreep! Kreep!”

Perspective has so many angles. Look at them there!
How they wish they could venture forth
into the wild, unknown yonder. They’re scowling,
seemingly a bit grumpy, because they can’t.

They could, I suppose,

but this world was created with thorns.

© 2018/Jamie K. Reaser
Book collaboration in progress with artist Mark Collins

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Art: Mark Collins

I thought I’d remember every little detail for the rest
of my life: the adventures, the games that we played and
where we played them. I thought these were life-long
friends. At the very least, certainly, I’d remember their names.

Childhood seemed so real.


That’s what the young impala and ox-peckers brought to mind.
There, at savannah edge, freshly on four legs, seemingly a bit
surprised and tentative to suddenly be a gazelle. “Wow! What’s
all this?” There in the company of four clown-colored birds clearly
intent on clowning around. I wondered what they were coming
to know of each other.

The moment seemed so holy.


Does your inner child still know how to run and jump as if 
she or he were some lanky wild creature new to the wonders
of this world?

“Oh! Wouldn’t that really be something?” 

“Oh! I so want to remember the holy by name.”

© 2018/Jamie K. Reaser
Book collaboration in progress with artist Mark Collins

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

In the Balance

Art: Mark Collins

This Autumn afternoon
the young hawk
took himself into the air
arising from some secret in the old orchard
and banking toward the blue-hued mountains
to station in one of the far-reaching red oaks
that the farmer let live for want of
cattle-shade. Black angus. Not very
imaginative. The hawk: I thought of poetry,
of Gary Snyder up in a fire
tower scribing masterpieces
on simplicity and balance.
Then, as if it was meant to demonstrate how
quickly a lovely thought can shapeshift into some
harsh reality, the squirrel arrived and that, was
that: not well-practiced but honed by necessity,
it cut across the distance. Woosh!
I said to myself: “Look at the way he loves. Look
at the way he serves Heaven. Look how he
learns who he is.” There was nothing to disdain.
Nothing to grieve. There was an impaled
squirrel there—thick with the season—twitching in
the grass and a hawk mantling his prey just
like a voice that I couldn’t hear told him
to do. In his golden eyes, I saw the low yellow
sun and the yellow flowers that friends
give each other when red means too much.
I remembered other things that had seemed
like something until suddenly things changed.
There was some grief in that, and some joy too. And,
this is where I was with my thoughts when he arose
with the squirrel and went off, pulsing, somewhere
into the wood where he could tear a life
apart in private. I became the poet.

(c) 2017/Jamie K. Reaser
Installment for collaborative book project and show with artist Mark Collins
Work in progress

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Awaiting Santa

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

Have you ever stopped awaiting Santa, that proof that
something magical exists and that it knows you? Isn’t
there something that every little boy and girl wants
that only Santa can bring, like being fully witnessed by
another? Feed the holy say the scriptures, somewhere.
Cookies, milk, carrots: maybe they are enough of an
offering to nourish the spirit in a world that insists
we stop believing.

I don’t have a mantel. But, I can make do. 

(c) 2017/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Truth and Beauty" (a work in progress)

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Holiday Miracle Comes Full Circle

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

When you are self-employed, amassing tax deductions is as important as taking out the garbage. So, there I was on December 6th with a car load of donations, the last drop offs of the year. Yeah. Habitat for Humanity was to benefit from a water heater and grotesquely golden-yellow toilet pulled from my sister’s new home, as well as an aging stereo and slide scanner that had surpassed my technological capacities for repair - a gesture that sounds rather like “ker thump.” Goodwill was to receive yet another bag of waist-too-large clothing.  I had my personal trainer, Leon, to thank for that. 

I first paid my respects to Habitat for Humanity.

That accomplished, I began to fidget, repeatedly, with the turquoise turtle-neck sleeve that covered my turquoise-banded watch.  It had snowed two days earlier and I had been forced to take the long way into town; a cross-wise car blocked my closest access route to the highway. That hill should never be attempted in bad weather with a two-wheel-drive vehicle.  All the locals know that.  I had things to do. Year-end deadlines for various environmental consultancies. Holiday cookies to bake. Goats to tend before dark.

Drats. The loading dock was already occupied by soccer-moms, as well as a soccer-dad (impressive), busily tossing engorged black garbage bags of out-grown toys and clothing at blue-vested volunteers.  I’d have to park across the lot and walk 100 feet or so.  I did.

“Would you like a receipt?” one cheerful worker chimed to the soccer-types. “No,” they chorused in unison, barely taking the time to inhale and exhale the reply amidst tales of their children’s recent accomplishments. Oh yes, and the gossip about the not-so-accomplished things other people’s kids were doing.  I sneered. Either they don’t have to work or they had real jobs. 

“Would you like a receipt?” she turned towards me. “Yes, please,” I muttered.  I filled it out. “The white copy is yours.”  I knew the routine.

Back to the car, I thought.  Things to do.  I’m behind schedule. (Whose I’m not sure).
“Go inside. Look around.”  Clear, concise, and pushy. The voiced caused me pause.  I knew that voice well and knew that it had served me well, repeatedly, throughout my life - in big ways and small.

“Go inside. Look around.”  I stood on the asphalt, a yard or so from the car door, keys ready, yet looking at the store entrance. “Open,” it read.

“Go inside and look around.” Then the inner-arguments began.  I didn’t want to go inside. I didn’t need any more “stuff” of any sort in my tiny, under-renovation cabin. I had things to do. I slid the turquoise sleeve elbow-ward again.

“But,” said another part of me, “remember the lottery ticket.”  The lottery ticket?  Yes. I remembered the lottery ticket.  Earlier in the year the same voice had haunted me in a 7-Eleven.

My dream house had been without water for nearly two weeks and the dirty clothes had taken on a life of their own. I drove into town, picked a laundromat, hogged more than my fair share of machines, and wandered across the street to 7-Eleven for some green tea.  As soon as I entered the store, the voice began nagging, “Buy a lottery ticket. The tiki one.” I had never before bought a lottery ticket and wasn’t inclined to do so. What a waste of money.

But there I was, standing in front of the lottery ticket machine. Huh, there is one with a tiki on it, I noted. I bought it (two bucks), scratched it, and figured I didn’t know a damn thing about playing the lottery because by my calculations I had won $100.  I took it up to the woman behind the counter and handed it over without a word. I figured she’d either tell me how much it was worth or ask if I wanted her to throw it out. To my great surprise, she offered her congratulations and placed five twenties in my hand.

Yes. I remembered the lottery ticket.

“Go inside. Look around.”  Oh, fine.

I climbed the steps, entered the door, and walked past the cashiers while at least two parts of me still bickered. OK. Now what?  My attention was drawn to the back of the store - housewares.

I made my way past rack after rack of suits, dresses, and tops. Then bins of infant clothes, scarves, teddy bears, and baseball caps.  Housewares. I walked down one aisle - jars, glasses, mugs, vases, the occasional basket and plate. Around the corner and back again, down the other side.  Christmas-motif jars, glasses, mugs, and the occasional…

I could walk no further. I had been halted against my own volition. A chill streamed into my body and neck-hairs raised as best they could within the confines of a turtle-neck collar. Disoriented, fuzzy-visioned eyes fell, gazing onto the second shelf from the bottom. I forgot to breathe.

There lay a wreath, a Christmas wreath, which I knew personally. My lungs remembered the importance of breathing and forced a gasp.

I reached to take it into my hands. Could I? Was it real?

It was. I felt the straw-interior base, the fiber-fill stuffing, the swatches of multi-colored print fabric, the long red bow.  I rubbed my fingers over the hook, crocheted out of red synthetic yarn.

Some of the patches, mostly the blue ones, were sun-faded.  It had been well-used. That was a good thing.

I turned it over. No price tag. No matter.

I looped my left arm through it, held it tight, and bee-lined for the register. I was going to make sure to get it and get out fast. No one else was going to end up with this wreath this holiday season.

I handed it to the sales lady. She worked there often. I always enjoyed her cheery air, bright eyes, and warm, rounded face. I had yet to figure out her hair, however. It didn’t move. Hair spray?

She flipped the wreath over. “No price tag,” I remarked.

“Two dollars and thirty-five cents,” she concluded.

I was gonna burst.

“Do you want to know the story of that wreath?” I begged, smiling beyond my usual capacity to do so.

“Sure. Of course I do,” she obliged with a glint and a grin, just as I knew she would.

The lady who had been in front of me in line was heading toward the door. The mid-length coat she wore was smartly-shaped. Two other patrons with much laden arms cued at my flank. I was sure they weren’t amused by my efforts to garner conversation.

“My mother made that wreath,” I blurted. “She’s been dead for nearly thirteen years.”

The exist-bound lady halted and turned. 

The sales woman shouted to her. “Did you hear that?!”

“My mother made that wreath. She’s been dead for nearly thirteen years,” I repeated, as much for the benefit of my cranial analysis as anyone else’s.

“Oh my golly. Oh my golly. How wonderful!” bounced the cashier.

“I know each of these patches of fabric,” I added. “There’s Christmas stockings, that’s Easter bonnets…”

The two behind me stared. I could see them from the corner of my eye. Were they in awe, entranced? Or, did they have things to do and greatly wish me gone?

“I feel like I shouldn’t charge you for it - just give it to you!” The lady at the register declared, nodding rapidly, not a hair straying.

“No,” I said. “Please take the money.” 

I can’t remember how I got out of the store.

But then I was heading down the steps and into the parking lot.  The tailored-coat lady kept repeating, “That’s so wonderful. That’s so wonderful,” as she made her way to her car.

“Something told me to go inside and look around,” I said.  “I didn’t want to, but something clearly told me to.”

“Something?” She looked directly at me, her voice begging - no demanding - the correct answer.  “That Something was the Lord. The Lord told you to go in there and find it!”  Her voice was deep, bold, and inspired, yet melodic. I pictured her as the leader of a rightfully-proud Gospel choir.

“You’re right,” I replied. The Great Spirit by any name, book, or declaration was fine with me on such an occasion.

I gave the passenger seat over to the wreath while driving the long way home.  Occasionally I reached over and stroked it, letting the edges of the wide ribbon guide my fingers around the loops and tails.  In my mind’s eye, I saw her at her old Singer sewing machine. The stitches were flawless.  Anything craft-wise she could do.

It had to be at least fifteen years old.  At least.  Cancer had stolen her energy away from such things, especially in the last years of the struggle. Especially after the failed bone-marrow transplant.

I had placed an amaryllis bulb in a red, tin pot in my southern-most window. It was going to serve as my single holiday decoration, whether or not it ever flowered. There were so many chores on the to-do list and I was braving the winter by living within a short distance of a wood burning stove, my only heat source in way-too-drafty abode. 

A Christmas tree just wasn’t going to happen.

I hung the wreath over the right-hand end post of my four-poster bed.  I touched it again, and looked at the crocheted hook. It really was real.

Two holiday decorations.

I sat at my desk, planning to get back to the work deadlines.  Instead, I stared at the wreath, feeling her presence ever more strongly with every memory that flooded back to me.  I soaked in it.  I had all the time in the world.

It occurred to me that I had been thinking about Mom quite a bit lately.
And that’s when I fully realized it.

In just a few days, my eyes would open to the soft December morning light. The first thing they would see, hanging at the end of my bed, would be that multi-colored, partially faded, patchwork wreath.  It would be my fortieth birthday.

I called my little sister.  “Guess what. I got my birthday present from Mom a bit early.”

After a brief silence, she replied, somewhat nervously, “What? What are you talking about?”

I told her the story.

“I’m gonna cry,” she concluded.

Thanks Mom. I love it.

I love you.

(c) 2007-2017/ Jamie K. Reaser
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