Human Nature

Madonna and child

Madonna and Child


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Up and Down

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Palm Tree

Palm Tree by Becky Jaffe


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From dust to dust, in remembrance of Fezeka Kuzwayo.

Good morning, Morning Glory!





The Nature of Immigration


Photo by Becky Jaffe

The trees at Berkeley’s Aquatic Park are crawling with undocumented immigrants. The new arrivals recently set up crowded encampments in the foliage above the golf course, creating a nuisance for hapless golfers. The migrants are traveling 2,000 miles from Canada to Mexico, as they do every year, despite lacking permission from the proper United States authorities to overwinter on American soil. These aliens have been seen floating over border patrol checkpoints by the millions, flouting the rule of law and making a mockery of the very notion of the nation state. At a recent press conference on the crisis, Trump promised to make every effort to deport the shiftless butterflies, who, he also noted, are lazy and do not contribute to the economy. He promised to personally subsidize a butterfly net the size of Texas to prevent more of these filthy pests from invading American soil and infesting our nation with their ecoterrorist agenda. In a show of support for Trump, the NRA promised to equip Native-born golfers with semi-automatic machine guns in order to keep the peace.


towers of power

Photo by Becky Jaffe



Photo by Becky Jaffe

the blues


Photo by Becky Jaffe

Further dispatches on the devastating beauty ravaging the countryside of Haiti.



Photo by Becky Jaffe

Many Haitians continue to practice Animism, thank the gods. This Mapou tree keeps a watchful eye on the celebrants gathered around her during a Voodoo ceremony. When the revelry gets wild, she joins in with a good-natured wink.

Beast of Burden

beast of burden-2

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Upstanding Citizen

upstanding citizenPhoto by Becky Jaffe

abstract and concrete

abstract and concretePhoto by Becky Jaffe

yellow ribbons

yellow ribbons

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Two schoolgirls with yellow ribbons in their hair walking down a red clay road in the fog.

Giving Thanks

smell the flowers

Photo by Becky Jaffe

Higher Power

Higher Power

Photo by Becky Jaffe

The cartoon grins on his shirt belie his seriousness of purpose.



Photo by Becky Jaffe

What are we bequeathing this child? His inheritance is a pittance of what he deserves.

His scarf reads “reboisement,” French for “reforestation.” If we are to bequeath him his birthright, we must replant him his endowment. In the devastated landscape of Haiti’s Massif Lasel, where he lives, the organization Fondation Seguin is working to stem the tide of habitat destruction by replanting broadleaf forests for the benefit of generations to come. Here in Oakland, California, Urban Releaf does the same important work. Our children reap what we sow, so let’s plant our seeds wisely.

an epidemic of beauty

mona lisaPhoto by Becky Jaffe

I’m back from a wonderful trip to Haiti, a country with a grave outbreak of rampant ingenuity and a serious national epidemic of beauty. The Mona Lisa smile on this charmer from the Massif Lesel is highly contagious. This is the first of several photos I will be sharing over the next several weeks in homage to the Haitian people.

brute tenderness

baboon lovePhoto by Becky Jaffe

The moon is down

As I was fondly ogling my bookshelves a few nights ago it occurred to me that I might rearrange the order of my books to write a poem using each title as one line of verse. I’m sure I’m not the first person to invent this game, nor the first to stay up all night permuting books to write an epic poem about the expulsion of Eve and Adam from Eden and the poignant rise and fall of Homo sapiens.

What follows is my first Book Stack Poem, composed of 164 books. In this version I include main titles only. Tomorrow I will post a version with subtitles and authors for the bibliophiles among you. Enjoy!


unusual creatures


The moon is down
on this earth
the place that inhabits us

View with a grain of sand
the earth from above
at close range
one day of life

The awakening
everything is illuminated
the living planet
the little school
the earth
the house of mirth

God of dirt
the god of small things
lord of the flies

When clay sings
the song of songs:
the arrival

Unusual creatures
naked in ashes
the inhabited woman
the man with the beautiful voice
the chosen
beloved on the earth
my family album
welcome to the monkey house

On paradise drive
the exultant ark
the flamingo’s smile
the panda’s thumb
the flight of the iguana
the mind of the raven
anthills of the savannah
hen’s teeth and horse’s toes
fireflies, honey, and silk
owls and other fantasies
1300 real and fanciful animals

the gift of good land
kinship with all life
the eye
red bird
blue iris
the color purple
the scarlet letter
images of the universe
magical thinking
small wonder

wicked plants
the tree and the vine
the cosmic serpent
a devil’s chaplain
the botany of desire

Dandelion wine
food of the gods
orchid fever
the body in question
the passion
strange behavior
nasty, brutish, and short
loose woman
the happy prince
love in the time of cholera
sex on six legs
animals gone wilder
just one fool thing after another

The sound and the fury
the grapes of wrath
white noise
darkness visible
the plague
the flood
the possessed and the dispossessed
the fall

Crime and punishment
apology for wonder
a supposedly fun thing i’ll never do again
i never promised you a rose garden

Falling angels
journey from the land of no
west with the night

out of africa
cry! the beloved country
long day’s journey into night

Midnight’s children
in search of nature
the way things work,
the where, the why, and the how
what to eat, what to drink, what to leave for poison
the how of happiness
why beauty is truth
a short history of nearly everything

The things they carried:
the book of questions
the book of imaginary beings
the book of qualities
the book of embraces
the book of longing
the illusion of orderly progress

The things they carried:
a pale view of hills
the shadow of the sun
stones from the river
leaves of grass
wild thoughts from wild places
reason for hope
nine parts of desire
20 love poems and a song of despair

Tales of tenderness and power
tales of freedom
walking words
ocean of words
words under words
words of gratitude
human wishes
hard times
war and peace
pride and prejudice
great expectations
darkness at noon
amazing grace

The good earth
the body
life –
a fine balance:
hope and suffering.

You are not here
i am a stranger here myself
stranger in a strange land
the splendid outcast
nowhere man
comfortable with uncertainty

Don’t get too comfortable
seize the day
the life to come
you must set forth at dawn
this time tomorrow
a thousand mornings
a thousand acres
mountains beyond mountains
man’s search for meaning
infinite jest
what do we know?

The spirit catches you and you fall down
bury me standing





Sunrise salutation