Just Delicate Needles, by Rolf Jacobsen

Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.

Never doubt that the Sower is just;

despite the young rain of tears, so delicate,

that fall on the thistle head’s drowsing needles.

When pricked, slowly bend your hands away like the

Sunflower or the chrysanthemum bending to the light.

Open your heart, but do not allow the evil to come in.

There will be calm hands there, and an

eternally comforting sleep there, and there will be endless

seeds of fire bursting in the night.





When the Pain is Too Much to Bear

When you don’t know what to do.

When the platitudes make you angry.

When prayers go unanswered.

When the phone call is mostly silence.

When you wake up too early and stay awake too late.

When all that is inside of you is dying.

When you would trade your life for his.




It was a clear night when my vision was restored.
I was overwhelmed by points of brilliant light–stars,
constellations, and neon signs.

As a child, I only hoped to see the future clearly.

I can’t recall when I first began to lose perspective.
I was overwhelmed by points distant–vital, vast, but
mattering less than those at hand.

When I look up, I only hope to see your face.

Wild Strawberries and a Conditional Statement

There is nothing wild anymore,
nothing sweet or real or free.
God gave me wild strawberries
I ate until my lips were red.

The crawdads don’t live here now.
No mounded holes, no hidden home.
The old men with their whiskey bottles
and their sticks have all gone home.

The children must be kept indoors,
their forts torn down, their fields mown short.
The authorities will provide sterility, safety,
and large strawberries without flavor.

If: wildness is danger
If: berries are not sweet
If: God is not real
Then: this place is no longer my home

The Eyes that Look Back from the Mirror

Things that are empty include:
half of the glass, my pockets,
this box filled with memories,
the eyes that look back from the mirror
in the dark.

The eyes that look back from the mirror
once dazzled by lights, by promise–
once fixed on the prize at the Midway.
I gave everything I had without knowing
the game was rigged.

I gave everything I had without knowing
if love would last, or be returned,
and whether or not heaven was real.
You keep trying and you keep thinking
“Maybe next time.”

You keep trying and you keep thinking
a little bit harder, a little bit better,
Until that one day comes when you stop.
The glass, the pockets, the memories, the eyes
and the prize.

We Never Leave the House

And why should we?
We have everything we need
right here.

We never look out the window.
What is there to see?
The entire world is on our screen
beneath our fingers.

Our friends, our food
Our Holy Communion
are powered by a new god.
Grant us hearts of silicon.

Houses peel apart like mica.
Windows open to the elements.
There is no one inside of them.
We abandon ourselves.


The road home is suddenly unfamiliar. Turning again, a fleeting moment of deja vu
feels almost like hope.

The mirror becomes opaque with time. Looking again, a fragment of translucent glass
pierces the heart.

The people we love grow distant. Trying again is like looking at a spot on the horizon
with one eye closed.

The displaced object only appears so because of the change in the position
of the observer.


Extend your hand until it touches
my skin or until the sand falls through
extended fingers, caught by the wind
and blown to the distant sea.

I have longed for your touch but I
understand it is nothing but carbon animated
by fire and blood and a cloud of angry
electrons, impossibly distant.

Some say we are nothing but stardust,
so why this keening for what is lost?

The fifth element lies within, buried
in the reliquary of my heart.


Missing Person

She looks at me and says, “Everyone, I think, is doing the best they can.”

By that she means herself, and me, and everyone suffering and hurting

and grasping and struggling and trying hard and usually failing.

It was a problem when the rays came, the pain, the electric shocks.

“How can you really handle such terrible inconveniences?” I ask.

She thinks the best thing to do sometimes is to nail the windows shut.

A thick layer of aluminum foil helps protect her against the worst of it.

It seems unlikely to me, but who am I to judge? Her pain and mine are not the same.

She a missing person, and I am missing, too.

The missing people walk the streets, ride the subway, sit alone in the dark.

The missing people look away, slip into the alley, avoid the crowds.

The missing people were not invisible until we looked away.

Am I doing the best I can?

Lakes on Titan

Baikal of the Kurykans lies cold beneath the canopy of stars;

water reflecting sky, ancient watchers bearing the crescent

moon in a boat, the breastbone of the earth cloven deep

beneath the pale and stellate glory of the Milky Way.

Cronus of the Greeks consumes his children, ruling the outer planets

from the depths of Tartarus, among the gods and titans.

The lakes of Titan are cold, and absent water reflect only black.