Seven Poems by Jody Hopkins


So What Does Poetry Look Like?
River of Spirit
Jennifer's Paper
Unemployment Office

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The music gets in the way.
It gives the poetic delight
that, try as I may, 
stays just beyond my sight


I reach for my inside
inchoate, yearning
justifying as insight
sharing my burning


They too slow, perhaps not knowing
or allslow denying the loss,
Why would they want to hear
what in my speed I come across?

I just found out who I was
Only to find that I'm unbecoming
by knowing I suffer from loss
can I find a song to sing?

Do I need the mirror to sing
Do I just need applause for my style?
Should I just keep my mouth shut?
Let's hear it for the virtue, denial!

Or would my voice resonate
a chord with finite souls?
Let my voice be made sensate
and listen for returning howls.

Alone in the woods I cry
And the sound searches for ears. 
An assertion, to say, to try
to reach, to touch, to hear.

Perhaps light years the sound will reach
past where the farthest stars glisten.
Perhaps angstroms then silence, but each
only work if I then listen.

So I see I must send my song
to touch my sisters and brothers,
But only by listening along
can I hope to resonate with others.  


A Friend taught me to canoe
to seek the way downstream
going with the force of the stream
searching the way to choose.

I thought I knew the direction
Once started one always went down
Like a frail leaf that's thrown
dwarfed on the torrent's action.

Then I learned to dance with the spirit
of the river, eddying, surfing across,
curling back, in the current's upstream toss,
embracing, merging, learning not to fear it.

Friends taught me of the silence
First endure, then enjoy, then feel mild delight.
Feel a merging of light with light
hear the tiny whisper of the light so immense.

My first intimations of the river of spirit, river of light
where the frail barks of our lives can play
following baroque curls in the light, leading as way
opens to carry us forward without fight.

The river of light, silent, invisible encompasses.
On the riverside of light I lay my life's boat
As I hear the silence in which I will float,
play, work and live not as one, but as process.


Like Russian layered dolls
That many figures store,
but in this doll each layer calls
with a different metaphor.

Can we see all layers together
and read a single light,
like the pinions on a feather 
joined in an angel's flight?

Or do the layers mirror
or do they contradict?
Do all colors in white shimmer
or does the complex prism reflect?

The reflection in the light 
lights each different person's toy,
seeing with our ears, hearing with our sight
to touch, live in the light, and hear joy.


A speck of green by the rock
some plant's growing tip.
Against spring a stony lock
opposes flowership.

I pulled the rock from the ground,
fluffed the earth by the green,
and each day I came around
to monitor the speck I'd seen.

I know plants break concrete highways.
This plant had awesome power.
So I know there is no way
I can pretend credit for the flower.


There ought to be poetry about bureaucrats
working in unemployment halls.
As I fill other people's forms with my stats,
for my pain, they take the fall.

Underpaid, undertrained, undersupported
behind shuttered eyes they endure,
against frustration and anger forted,
not really touching the besieging hordes.

Panhandlers don't ask the cripple for donations
recognizing in him a brother.
Can we fly over the glass partitions
and touch the humanness in another?


Do I write greeting card verses, 
extracting saccharine from plastic sweets?
Pretend Limousines from recycled hearses,
chaos reduced absurdly to neat?

If I reach for dark revelations,
they're always there to find,
But too often dark protestations 
defend dark recesses found only in my mind.

Yin and Yang, dark and light interdigitate
in myriad, moving complexes so real.
I reach for the light to illuminate
and hide from the dark that I feel.


Flinging fields of flame,
externalizing angst,
from voiceless, screaming pain
I give off fiery thanks.

If I embraced the burning core,
staring into my own sun,
Like blind Oedipus I'd know more.
Prometheus, vulture, one.

Jody Hopkins is a member of Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

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