Robed and Naked

Insatiable Moloch, the cyclotron, in the Berkeley hills,
gobbled up engineers, physicists and students like me.
I intently followed sparse dot tracks, connecting
microscopic silver grains in a murky emulsion
exactly measuring, evaluating, and recording
event after event day after day into night.
Good at it, excited, I found I wanted more,
found I could make a living, find certainty
in science, in physics, found my open door.

But elsewhere I was drunk on words
wished to live in cascades of wonder, ecstatic whimsey
dancing wildly loose, un-robed to Stravinsky
whisky uplifted with girls and guys in a foggy beach shack,
dreaming and trying to write like Henry Miller freely.

Mathematics are clear, crisp paths of past into future
equations of state, fixed Newtonian laws to revel in,
even the Quantum weird, lord of all that was and will be,
I gloried in invention, patents, papers written
became incased in government corporations.

I thought I could live a double life,
I wrote a novel, gloried in making long sentences,
echos of Henry James, felt the rhythm in poems
Duncan, Rexroth, Levertov, Ginsberg, Eliot, Pound.
I burnt my classroom notes, thought I burnt the physics trapping me,
dreamt of being other than what I did. ( lost even this after many years)
Often home late, tired, after dinner and martinis,
in the alcoholic haze, remembered who I would like
to have been, and could not then be.

Kent Bowker 5/14/2015

The way things are

Long robed African women carry water on their heads
large jars precariously up hill from the well
every morning to the village and its sheds
with their cattle, to their children and husbands that tell
of their hunt, or the lion outside the kraal,
all talk of their joys and woes,
the way things are.
Time stands still.

Not much different here, in America,
where complexity hides the simple.
We’re caught by ritual routines,
time rushes Monday on to Sunday
when Hope gets its shots
lifts joys up as birds might fly
our life as soft as our pillows
but with joy fleeting woe stays,
in the way things are.

Kent Bowker 5/17/2015


I’ve just devoured a lot of information
the whole new issue of the Nation
of digital dances within the NSA
and corporate manipulation of our play.
My morning reading time frittered away
Knausgaad”s ‘My Struggle’ still untouched,
as urgent catastrophes wasted the day.

Overwhelmed, I wonder why, what compels
me to do the one, ephemeral, than the other
that might take me out of this comfortable,
what I expected to read, affirmation
of what I know. This simplification
of the negative view that all is not right:
the political, economic, social plight.
Seems a shody way to ignore the light outside
the glorious day unfolding after so much rain,
as compulsion takes over an uncertain brain
losing sight of other things, that might,
just might, bring happiness and lasting delight.

Kent Bowker 6/5/2015,