Elizabeth Jacobson

All the time I pray to Buddha…
November 28, 2016 Jacobson Elizabeth

All the time I pray to Buddha…

“All the time I pray to Buddha I keep on killing mosquitoes.”

 — Issa


Issa, I killed 8 gophers this fall, held

each cold body in my open palm,


stroking the river colored fur between their silent black eyes

before dropping them into a plastic bag.


Their little hands were cupped

as if in death they cradled one last thing


because nothing does not continually hold

all of what remains, or all of what


has been carried somewhere else.

The tunnels these creatures dug in my yard,


destroying even the hardiest plants,

will soon be used by voles and rats,


and other gophers,

from other yards, that will be trapped and killed, by me.


I met a man who hunts elk.

He shot a large buck, and when he was beginning to dress it,


just as he made the first cut with his blade through the buck’s neck,

this man opened his mouth to yawn.


The neck of the elk exploded, and the cervical fluid

burst from its spine,


infecting the man

with a parasite that nearly killed him.


Issa, I cannot absolve myself,

cannot clear impurities from my body.


You said, A bath when you’re born,

a bath when you die,


how stupid.


How extraordinary.

Elizabeth Jacobson was the fifth Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico and anAcademy of American Poets 2020 Laureate Fellow.  Her most recent book,Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize, selected by Marianne Boruch (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2019), and the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for both New Mexico Poetry and Best New Mexico Book. Her other books includeHer Knees Pulled In(Tres Chicas Books, 2012), two chapbooks from Dancing Girl Press,Are the Children Make Believe?(2017) andA Brown Stone(2015), andEverything Feels Recent When You’re Far Away,Poetry and Art from Santa Fe Youth During the Pandemic(2021), which she co-edited. Her work has been supported by grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, New Mexico Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. Elizabeth is the Reviews Editor for the on-line literary journal Terrain.org, and she is co-founding director of Poetry Pollinators, an eco-poetry public art initiative supporting native solitary bees. She curates a community reading series for Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts and teaches poetry workshops regularly in the community.