Where Is Paradise

Chopping wood

                     the short swing works best

maul lifted to eye level, aim,

quick arc

         and oak quarter splits to eighths

         red raw wood breathes out

                     a sweet nutty scent

fresh resin.

Later, swim off the sweat

         in cool Santa Ynez river


                    cloaked below the surface

                    turtles poke noses into the air

paddle away and hide

        if I am walking near.

Feed wilted carrots and shrunken apples

         to mules

the Forest Service

                     corrals behind our cabin.

We name them Buckeye, Greedy, Mule.

Collect acorns

         toyon berries

                     white sage

for our mantle.

Summer night freezes

in the Paradise Canyon.

We pull

         the futon close

to the black iron stove,

feed it split oak

         and I kiss your belly

         as our sweat begins to run.

for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night

Episode 7 of the PoJo Show — a podcast mixing poetry, spoken word, music, and sound — is now up on the Sound Files page and on my YouTube channel. This episode is called “Beyond & Back: Punk Poetry featuring Exene Cervenka

19 thoughts on “Where Is Paradise

  1. scotthastiepoet

    Where is Paradise? Good question Jedediah – I guess we all have our own – but you have certainly conjured a pretty rich and persuasive one here. A lovely read – thank you…

  2. The imagery in this alone, my God, it is expansively beautiful. You create a world in your words, I can tell. The meter and figurative language is brilliant, and I just loved these lines the most:

    “turtles poke noses into the air

    paddle away and hide

    if I am walking near.

    Feed wilted carrots and shrunken apples

    to mules…”

    I also adore the formatting. It allows the poem to become its own, and it’s fun to read the text as such. Such brilliant penning here. Your work is amazing and rich.

  3. I loved this, such a pleasant read, the words seem to come out so easily, and yet it is the light tone that adds depth to the story, the staggered structure that gives it clarity. Well composed, ~Jason

  4. Nicely done, Jedediah! I like the word-choice used to convey the sounds of wood-chopping and the appeal to the olfactory senses in ‘red raw wood breathes out / a sweet nutty scent’, which took me back to yesterday when I spent a while stacking logs. I also enjoyed the turtles – we don’t get them here. I love the ending with the cosy futon by the black iron stove – I look forward to lighting ours.

    1. Jedediah Smith

      Glad it all connected with you. It’s a life in the past for me since moving away from that cabin. Hope someday to live in another place like it.

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