Richard Jarrette is author of Beso the Donkey (Michigan State University Press, 2010)—Gold Medal Poetry Midwest Independent Publishers Association 2011, Chinese translation by Yun Wang forthcoming; A Hundred Million Years of Nectar Dances (Green Writers Press, 2015); The Pond (Green Writers Press, Oct. 2017)—Chapter V of Nectar Dances with paintings by Susan Solomon; The Beatitudes of Ekaterina (Green Writers Press, Oct. 2017). His books have been endorsed by W.S. Merwin, Jane Hirshfield, Joseph Stroud, Sam Hamill, David Ferry and used as texts for Influence of Buddhism on Contemporary Literature in MFA courses. Jarrette cherishes personal admonishments and instruction by W.S. Merwin, Dan Gerber, Jane Hirshfield, and Anne Carson. Beso the Donkey is a reply to his first encounter with Mr. Merwin’s poem Little Horse in 1969 and which arrived forty years later. Yun Wang translated Beso into Chinese due to its kinship with the Tang Dynasty poets for a dual-language teaching text. He is Poetry Columnist Voice Magazine Santa Barbara, a retired psychotherapist—ptsd, pain management, hypnotherapy specialist—and lives semi-reclusively in the Central Coast area of California after formative years in Los Angeles and the Western Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where he is considered a regional writer. He has three self-cleaning adult children and four grandchildren and lives part-time with some of them on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.

Some Poems from Beso the Donkey

Beso the Donkey

Beso the Donkey
lives out his days in a small pasture.
He appears stoic in the rain
and stands still
beneath the merciless sun.
You could almost believe that a rock
to eat, dust to drink,
are all that he needs.
You would be more wrong
than the one who named him Beso
thinking that the kiss he gave
for a sliver of apple
was love.

Beso's Mind

My agreement with gravity
compounds with age.

I dip my nose in the Milky Way
and feel how deep.

I wander far from my head
and its donkey-tying stake.

from A Hundred Million Years of Nectar Dances


Living In Perilous Times

                      Six inches of the seas have lifted
                      into the sky and rain down.


Late light pools on the twisty path,
woodpeckers nail evening shadows to trees
and telephone poles.

I was the baby of the family and never knew
what was going on or why.

John Coltrane said he would ask
Thelonious Monk questions with his horn
and get answers to questions
he never thought to ask.

Last night, brother cat, the moon painted
the blossoms on our old apple tree
and the great horned owl.

Do you think this means we’re going to be
alright, little cabbage white?

Unless one owl closes one eye too many
and the entire dream unravels.

We’re running along the same knife edge
as the quail—are you in love with your fine
forward-curving plume, my friend?

You can walk on the sun and the moon
where they’ve come all this way to lie down.


Honey For The Women

Earth wins its argument again.
I sit beneath a tree to rest, filled with living
like a worm full of dirt, and I Euripides
about the women I’ve known.

My fingers find a crusty dead bee in the grass,
weightless, more profound than the Song of Solomon.
Inside its husk, a hundred million years of nectar dances,
flowers of the world, and the world’s sweetness.

But I robbed the tree of a kernel of food
by picking it up and so I put it down.

If I never get up, and no one finds me,
will bees make a hive of my body as in Samson’s lion
and honey, from alfalfa and sage,
next spring?


Richard Jarrette



© 2017 Richard Jarrette


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