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Bob Jaeger

Bob Jaeger

Bob Jaeger lives in Englewood, Colorado with his wife, Gerri, and their Australian cattle dog, Red. He spends his days reading, writing, walking, gardening and visiting old friends. His poetry and prose has been published in Love Street Lamp Post, Pilgrimage, Central Avenue, and the Lake Chapala Review as well as an early collection in 1988 by Bread and Butter Press, Denver, Colorado.
 
 
 

After Arti

Leave the Samadhi.
Sit on a bench and listen
As the music begins.
Sit with knees poking into the aisle.
No matter how the body bends
Know that this is still the world
That none of us fit utterly well,
Always awkward poking out into life,
Prodded down or up whatever path
We have with eyes mostly shut tight
Stumbled onto.
But here we all somehow are
In this life in this place with You
Beloved,  playing and singing.
How fortunate to poke so gangly
The sharp edges of the world
And know You not only were.
You are.

 
 
On Returning Home from the Ocean
 
It was spring and the weather was fine.
We’d had nothing to do but enjoy Your company,
Yet I complained of feeling far from You,
Grumbling with dark thoughts and old misdeeds.
Now far from Your home on this rainy day,
I find You have kept all the darkness I brought.
I find You have lightened my heart.
What a blessing, what a joke, Beloved.
 
In honor of Your infinite humor and grace
I will go out today into the world
Without money, without wallet,
Without documentation or proof,
Hoping You will recognize me and laugh.
I will go without notebook and pen
Knowing the only thing worth remembering
Is Your sweet name over and over, Beloved,
How the rhythm of it modulates my breath,
My step, the swing of arms, the arc of my gaze.
 
With nothing to talk about and nothing to do,
Nothing to see and no one to meet but You,
I will go out with nothing in my pockets,
And I will even go without glasses.
This will blur the sharp outlines of the world,
But may help me recognize You
Should You suddenly step out of the tavern
And invite this thirsty old complaining fool in.
 
 
 Swift Kick
 
The sunny yellow center in this
Saucer of orange sweet-sour sauce
Invites a taste, but too large a dollop
On the egg roll claws through sinuses
To explode like napalm behind the eyes,
And in the sneezing and crying and gasping
For breath all other consciousness goes,
And nothing in the universe matters—
No worry, no fear, no future or past,
For just this fraction of a second
Free.
 
Chicken soup for the soul?
Nice enough in its way,
But what the soul really wants
May be more along the lines of
Too much Chinese mustard.
 
 
Kalahari Rain
 
When the rain stops
Rivers shrink to pools,
Then moist patches,
And then to nothing at all.
Wise frogs dive into mud
Which soon hardens,
And there they wait
In the dark, in the silence,
Sometimes for years,
Surviving on that one
Hoarded drop
Until the next rain 
Sets them free,
Blinking again,
Drinking through everything—
Mouth, skin, spirit—
This water, this water…
 
The lessons here,
If there are any,
Are too ghastly to learn.
 
Oh Beloved,
Let us remember You
And not too often ask
How long?
 
 
Saved by the Spell of Your Grace
 
After visiting Your home on the shore,
I have returned to Colorado.
It is a gray and rainy day, and cold.
Left to my own devices
I could dredge worry and old hurt,
Mix in a dash of guilt, some fear,
A little loneliness and just
A pinch of self-indulgent doubt.
It’s an old recipe, and I know it by heart,
But You, Beloved, don’t even let me start.
The rain is fine for walking in with dogs,
And after that the laundry warms my hands.
The dear wife You dropped into my
Bumbling life will be home later tonight.
I will shop for things I know she likes
And wait for her with a meal much finer
Than the stew You saved me from eating today.
 
 
Pulling at a Thread
 
I noticed the thread on the button of the shirt
And pulled, and when the button fell off
There was a moment’s irritation until
The thought occurred to me, the possibility
That this unraveling could simply continue
Up the sleeve, across the shoulders, down
The torso and the other arm all at once,
And then by some odd attraction unknown
To science, progress from the shirt tail
To the shorts and trousers and socks,
 
And then, inexplicably jumping
Like lightning from earth to sky
The mystery would continue from the tips
Of the toes all the way up the body till
Nothing remained to my wife’s astonished
Gaze but a slappyhappy Cheshire grin.
Then that too would go,
Not fading cat-like but a clean unwinding,
 
And then another lightning leap to mind,
And all the dark and hidden residue
Floating up and up like buried stuff
From deep swamp muck stirred by strong wind
Coming to light and lining up bit by bit
Like the loopy threads on a dog food sack,
And if you can find just the right place to start,
They unzip thread by binding thread,
Quickly and easily, just like that,
Until nothing is left but
You, Beloved.
 
 
Tug-of-War in Toka, 1928
 
They all wanted Baba’s company,
So they had a tug-of-war.
Holding His wrists, they pulled,
The ashram boys on one side,
The Meherabad girls on the other.
Baba said, “Pull with all your might.
Let’s see who is stronger
and who loves me more.”
 
And now You’re gone,
These few years that seem so many,
And we can only wonder at the stories,
Wonder how to hold, Beloved?
How to pull You close?
 
 
 
All I Want
 
All I want
These mornings as light pours
through old glass, ripples in small
Golden pools in the shadowed hall—
These afternoons
Walking the sweet red dog
As clouds roll, snow begins,
Leaves startle in bitter winds—
These evenings
After all is done and undone,
Weariness pools and leaks in
As day grows pale and thin—
All I want
Is Your sweet presence
Just for a moment
A touch
A glance across the dark
The tiniest spark
Of Your lovely light
Before giving me up
To the fast falling night.
 
 
Boathouse Haiku
 
Far off thunder grumbles
Frogs across Long Lake answer
Baba, Baba
 
 
Nasik, 1938
 
Legs crossed, You sit with
A pillow behind Your back.
Chummy the spaniel lies
Alert yet serene,
Golden rump against
Your right knee,
Bringing new meaning
To the old phrase,
You lucky dog you.