We are watching Linda flicker
between living and dying
frail, morphine fogged she reclines
in her hospital bed at the head of the stairs
planning her new kitchen cabinets.
Her smile is for us to see
to say she accepts our love.

She’s the shaman sometimes, or not
the force is dimmed the light remains
clear sometimes, her poetry seems
to have been written.

Do we grieve, or celebrate
the planned on positive future.__
We will celebrate today for tomorrow
none can see longer than this___
she is thinning each week
her smile broadens across her thin cheeks
wider each week it seems
as her faith belays our fearful
expectation, her strength flickering
each day toward tomorrow.

The poet has become bird
light, translucent reaching up
the presence of invisible wings
golden, radiant in the faith in nature
there is no betrayal, no flinching
no crying, the bear stalks about
the spirit cave containing her
We can’t see these as we sulk
about in the shadow of our fears.

The Crane dances with the snake
overland to the rippling waters
of the mother’s fecund ocean
we travel in the lower world to
seed the ending start beginning
her drum beat leads the passage
of the teacher, of her living
power animal, to come to
the lady of grace, Mary.

“Barnard’s windows open into life
a hard cold thing inside me melts.
I can see all the beauty within
the violet iridescence of light
sliding past the dread night sweat
I call for help as the stream is strong
at the crossing. Weak in fear
stroke with me together
at this crossing I am afraid.

I can see the crossing, that is my job
come help me stroke, share these berries
the spring sweetness, the taste of life.”


The Last One

Coming from P-town to Gloucester
motor sailing in a calm, lightly ruffled ocean
in the empty bowl of the horizon
we came upon a rusting hulk
brown streaked blackened red side,
slowly turning on the flat black sea.

A long dark rusty gil-netter, lines out,
like a hopeless memory circling in the flat sea
What is beneath this surface for the families?
For the layers of families waiting
for the missing fish money.
The boat’s steel flakes fall off
in the long search for the last fish,
no money in it for paint,
in seeking it rusts away

Dark cavities behind the streaked plates
we see no seaman, maybe a hint of a face
the ship rusts, circling in the flat sea
inside the sharp edge of horizon
the songs of the sea were still
the wind slow

reaching down
for the last fish
long searching, circling
nets winding, futile,
paint chips flaking, gone.
A face appears in the recesses
of the large net wheels
fades back into the indigo
shadows in the turning boat
as if depression driving
the hunter who must hide, –
a recluse of the sea
seining for the last fish.

In its own vortex
scorpion of the mind
repetition, the laying of nets
a slow dervish dance
arms raised like railroad semaphores
for the end of the line, a train coming,
in the desolation of this lifeless desert,
the slow turning over flat water
the dervish spinning ecstasy
is a ritual to invoke
the fish providing spirits.
the slow turning over flat water
slightly scratching the surface
enscribe the tracks of the dance
over depths of the sea
seeking the last fish –

so long out- rusting away
becoming pointless
lost, seeking, –
as the families
are fading



About Thomas More

from Montenegro

High ground, wha zat
so’s ya can shoot down
at me here in my swamp?
careful, your halo tilts.

Is it a cloud your sittin in
fluffy and clean white
balloon like,? it gotta be
tethered I guess, else

You might be off, jes gone
you don’t have a choice
Ya can’t come down here
in reality swamp cen ya

It’s mucky, reality is
no place you can be upward
and straight, so to speak
and crowded too, here
in the muck wallow,
otter compromise else ya
soul get shriven by evils
greed and wantin better.

Goodby Old Farm

I left the ranch when the house burnt down
never rode a hay wagon again
or led the cows home at night
or see the wind waves in tall grasses,
after flinging matches in the dry air
to see smoke tails writhing.

A wall of resentment came down
between us, my grandfather and I.
A boy couldn’t see the old man’s loss of place
his big Victorian towered house come down
or understand the diminishment in a small town
that he suffered when he built
a smaller brick house from the ruins,
with the adobe Morman church
across the highway mocking him
His old world vanished then.

Ruins last forever in the ochre desert
after the irrigation ditches dry.
Remember the Navajo who came
hired help for the harvest
remembering other ruins, fires and losses.

I went back twenty years later
after they had died, he of age,
she of diabetes, the sugar beet disease,
that ravages the Morman towns,
nestled between green and black mountains
in the hot valleys far from anywhere
where grasses struggle to live
and tumbleweed clings to
swinging loose screen doors.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tora Bora

(I put this poem on the Poets Against the War web site as the Iraq war began )


In Tora Bora young men chant and pray,
Feel fear, remember their initiation feast
Feel their fathers telling them
become strong and manly,
put away childishness,
prepare the lamb
you raised and slept with.

The men fire AK’s and Enfields
The boy drew a knife across the throat
Gun smoke stings, blood flows.
Strong arms grab him, raise him up,
Gun in one arm, the boy in the other,
The father dances.

At the Madrassa they memorize great passages
Sweeping verse clearing lands of infidels,
Lifting myth verse off ceramic walls
the innocent rise to clean the world.
.     Enshala.

Oh, for a child to kill to become a man
believing in a wondrous prophet,
Or a wounded child locked
In the caves of Tora Bora,
Where Poems and missiles fly,
The poem is released, shots, gestures.

The wielder of the poem doesn’t live long.
Cool minds on wings above
See through germanium eyes
Laser guiding steel into ancient verse.

The missile doesn’t miss the red dot
It doesn’t see children, women, or frightened men
They’re not mentioned in the manual,
not in the mission statement, the press release.

We do not feel words on an LCD screen, see not
The body’s temperature change
The dying of the mystic light
The voice of the poem
Is extinguished now….

We’re to fear this man
of a gentle soft new beard
hearing of his hate of us,
We have never seen his
Reddened brown eyes
Straining to read in cave light.

All the men are dancing
firing their weapons.
Plunging knifes
in the throat of love.

Kent Bowker 1/30/2003 rev 4/1/2008