JR Solonche returns to the Lake

A couple of poems in December’s The Lake Journal: The Lake poetry

Jacob and the Angel

Afterward in the morning,
already late in the morning,
already near noon,
he awoke,
and no one was about.
His right hand was gripped tightly
on the shin of his leg.
His left arm was under his head
so that the elbow was stiff,
and the forearm was numb
from the weight of his head upon it.
His mouth was dry with the dryness of sand,
and the lips of his mouth were parched as the sand of the desert.
He felt the soreness in his limbs.
He felt the stiffness in the joints of his limbs.
He saw the full light of day illuminating the tent.
The flap of the tent opening was bright with the brightness of daylight.
And even full with soreness in his body,
and even full with stiffness in his limbs,
and even full with a terrible thirst in his mouth, he sprang to his feet,
and he threw himself upon the tent opening,
upon the full light of the tent opening that flapped like white wings in the dry wind.

The Jonah Story

I do not like the Jonah story.
The Jonah story is all
obedience and disobedience,
God calling on the wind
to frighten the sailors,
God calling on the whale
to swallow up Jonah
and spit him out again
on dry land, God
calling on the worm
to desolate the vine.
The Jonah story is all God
calling. I do not like the way
the Jonah story ends.
The Jonah story ends
without ending. It ends
with God asking
Jonah a question,
but really asking one of those
holy rhetorical questions
that God is so fond of,
and that is where Jonah is
left hanging,
on the question mark of God.
And I do not like this because
I want to know what happens
to heroes at the end of stories.
What happens to Jonah
at the end of his story?
What does Jonah do?
Does he go home?
Does he stay where he is
on the east side of Nineveh
where he prepares a field
of gourd vines? Does he
sleep twenty-four hours through?
Does God leave Jonah alone?
Does God leave Jonah alone,
finally, oh finally,
in the shade of the vine?

J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions) and coauthor ofPeach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife, the poet Joan I. Siegel, and nine cats, at least three of whom are poets.