Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections: Jeb Loy Nichols

Jeb Loy Nichols | 26th December 2017

As the year draws to a close, we ask our friends and collaborators to look back on the past twelve months and share their significant moments. From Jeb Loy Nichols:


I walk for twenty minutes and stop. There are, above me, starlings and a single crow. Bugs too and smaller birds. Clouds and an unseen moon. These things are not a part of me but I’m a part of them. A year Here has nothing to do with a calendar. A year Here is a length of hedgerow that changes from brown to green, to berried, to tall and sagging, to brown and deleafed. A year Here is birds that return and busily build nests and have fledglings and are never seen asleep, who strip the laurels of their berries and then migrate. A year Here is full of other small birds that do what other small birds do. A year Here is cold then not so cold, then dull, then warm, then long, then golden, then wet, then cool, then surprisingly cold again. A year Here drags and then dashes and then spins; occasionally it stops.

A year There is a list of things bought and used and broken and gotten rid of. Of meetings and stories and plans and hopes and demands and maybes and probably nots. Of promises and ambition. Of people. A year There is exhausting.

I live both Here and There.

Here I watch the seed pods outside my window grow brittle and break open. Here I watch mice hide in stone walls. Here there’s something burrowing under my deck, a weasel perhaps, making both a mess and a racket. Here I’m as small and quiet as possible.

I do things There in order to stay Here.

I do things Here in order to make some kind of sense of There.

I build a bridge between Here and There out of books and music. It’s not a very well built bridge, it’s makeshift and it’s precarious and sometimes it moves in the wind, but it does what a bridge is supposed to do; it gets me from Here to There and back again.

This year the bridge has been built of:

Mark Harris’s quartet of baseball novels – The Southpaw, Bang The Drum Slowly, A Ticket For A Seamstitch, It Looked Like Forever
Julia Siebel – The Narrow Covering
Diane Williams – Vicky Swanky Is A Beauty
Jack Gilbert – Collected Poems
Tony Rice – California Autumn
Sunny and the Sunliners – Mr Brown Eyed Soul
Norman Blake – The Fields Of November
Budd Schulberg – The Four Seasons Of Success
Joy Williams – 99 Stories Of God
Lew Welch – Circle Of Bones
Sam Shepard – The One Inside
Dr John – Desitively Bonneroo

Jerry David DeCicca – Time The Teacher

I stand Here on the high fields behind my house and There seems a world away. Tomorrow I’ll go into town or I’ll pick up a book or listen to some music and cross the bridge to There. And then, the next day, I’ll take a walk to Here. And that’s how I’ll spend and measure my year, crossing the bridge between Here and There.


Jeb’s website and Twitter account

Jeb’s Jukebox archive/Spotify playlist