Poetry

Jason Bowman's poetry and journal.

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Lost and Found

reach your fingers into a saline breeze
and let your hand be brushed by the unseen,
there lives love—the death of possession, 
for nowhere is it not.

watch a tire thrust its warm rubber
into the sandpaper of asphalt,
there lives love—unguarded from a trampling, 
propelling all momentum.

pour oil into oil and venture to find where
one ends and the other begins,
there lives love—things at home because
they've found they’re always lost.

feel in your life for the years that went too fast, 
for the years that went too slow,
there lives love—its weighted hug so ordinary, 
the skin of things forgets its touch.

Daybreak

a darkened room fills with a cello’s watercolor light,
its sparse walls and open windows become the body
of the instrument—no pocket of air ignored or useless.

the cellist closes the withered creases of his practiced map
and realizes memory is just a brilliant forgetfulness—
his dancing fingers wipe borders and boundaries clean.

down the hall, a little girl lies on the floor of her morning room
and whispers circular stories in her dog’s ear—
alone together, they are perfectly unfamiliar with technique.

a lone cloud tumbles past in the resonant wind
without thought of presentation or interpretation—
it carries everything of the new day with it.

i reach out my window, pull the cloud from the sky
and surround myself with the untouchable—
endlessly held in the webbed and spreading daybreak.

Forever

dance with me in the swift current where
we’ve danced together for a thousand years.
tell me every story i tell about you and us and
let me look upon each detail i’ve thrown away.

tell me what my name was the first time we met
and what shape the clouds made and your favorite
artist that day. remind me that once it was you
who i didn’t stop to greet, when walking on 16th,

our eyes chanced to meet. in the ocean, find for me
the wave that crashed upon the shore, the time
i had the feeling we’ve done this all before. bottle
that wave and splash me in the face every time i fail

to stop on 16th. ‘i already know you,’ i would say.
because some people have danced together
for a thousand years and all they need is a glance
to remember... once upon a time is forever.

Proprioception

you’ve long sent patrols
into the corners and cliffs of your body,
seeding memories, planting decorations.
when you close your eyes,
you’ll still feel the shape of the room you’re in,
your arms and legs will know where each other lie.
your form is felt only because it’s etched
with the heart’s tributes to your life, 
everything you’ve loved is still there, growing—
dispersing like ferns in the forrest.
we are not characters, we’re stories.
and stories are gardens—
swelling in wide open spheres.

Form Around Me

i still sometimes drive the dusky road of my adolescent dreams.
it’s long and straight—and although the trees and telephone
poles never seem to move—the road flies rhythmically by.
here on the treadmill of time is the vastness of cities,
the heart in my chest, and the gravity of trust.

make me like a solitary clothesline hanging between buildings;
all the windows open nearby. and when the breeze carries
news of a perfect story just written down the road, let
me vibrate with an immensity that could never be
reduced by the lack of someone else.

and you, dear heart; listen with me to the perfect story unfolding.
form around me like fog in a rolling valley—and, with your warm
and humid touch—insulate my bones like you hold all else.
and when you burn in the coming sun, uncover the
view that makes the minor keys so very eager.

The End

our tribulations are now over,
don’t cry for us.
the things inherited have washed
in the stream that passes fixity by.
smile for us,
we can finally see that
words are dead.
an earthquake, a snowflake.
a morning prayer, an angry bear.

Emergence

on the tongue of each morning
is the song of all days past. 
the books I've read, the places i've been
and the conversations that engulfed me–
like bus routes trying to describe a city.
each of the ingredients of my story flow
like a river into everything you've done as well.

an old man jogs uphill and his transparent
eyes clearly see the thing behind things.
i am struck by his rhythm and by the way his chin
stays perfectly level on the horizon.
i was driving to work but i realized–
it took each of the contents of my life
to be ready to finally see that man.

The Point

in my life is the round warmth of
fragility; my face is pressed against
the battlefield humanity has wrestled
since the first antelope got away.

there’s no more room in my mouth
for the explanations of today not
bouncing like yesterday; no longer can i
mistrust the intimacy of lamentation.

for if i do, the sorrows and defeats
that so graciously propelled the
complexion of my passions will revolt,

sliding back into a struggle that makes
stars resent the black sky; forgetting,
there will always be a hole left to fill.

I Just Want to Swallow

where once my fear was rich
with the electricity of inspiration,
now it’s only crippling; the power
forgotten in its murky burden.

just as far back as yesterday,
and even through the terrors,
up was so clear–it seemed the only
direction; significant and choiceless.

but today, without me even knowing,
something inside recreated down so
that i may once again, as if it’s the
only comfort, pretend i’m solid.

falling backwards into the grasping
hands of my constructed self, i am
lost in my failure to swallow the things
i’ve learned a thousand shining times.

these days in which i can’t see
above my own fog, the piercing stars
and their black blanket lost between
the battling voices of heart and head;

i close my eyes, feel my feet and
remember that there also–beneath
a planet with no idea of up–are many
more stars, pointing the way to everything.

Every Moment Is Death’s Birthday

every moment is death’s birthday.
i want running water and open windows in heaven,
i want the end of a song to spread out without having begun.
i want to step onto the other side of the decimal point
where i’m more than myself, where my skin is congruent with air,
the breeze blowing through me.

waiting without a watch, for you are the gears themselves.
smiling when first buds unfold and smiling when
last leaves wither–death, press against my nose and let me
behold you in the sensation of each exhale–always
remind me that you are what makes love worth it.

Further

step into the storm–pierce deeply,
fall face first. the silence
is there; impregnable, resting. 
look from behind your eyes–shine–
the tornado is calling your name;
let it stir god from your muscles–
for you are made of a great
and unbreakable vastness.

To You

if i was ever to endeavor to again sit down and write something to you, 
i would first close my eyes
picturing the highest clouds in the sky
trying to hold the brilliance of the sun
without dissolving in its light. 

i would then want my body to feel like it does when it’s next to yours, 
not the times when i’m inexplicably nervous, 
not when i’m wondering what it all feels like to you, 
but like the moments when i settle into the great inevitability of gravity.

then my bones would drop into the chair i sit on, 
my muscles would slough off their cool blue ridges—
my body would no longer need help sitting up; 
it would be propped by the delicacy of you, alive in me.

when i went to put my fingers on the keyboard, 
they would remember the language of we—
nouns and adjectives and verbs held by the parenthetical hands
i sometimes feel embracing (us) when there are no words.

near the end, 
i would give up trying to hold the sun, 
i would relinquish the things i really want to say into the vital liquid of air, 
the great blanket around everything living, 
knowing that—wherever you and i happen to be—
we’re breathing each other, along with the trees.

A Portrait

this, the ocean blue
beneath the bones of your mind–
a whispering water,
a poet’s pier.
hushed currents thread
into the gown of your gaze,
somewhere in your eyes–
a raft whose edges have
remembered
they’re no different
from the sea.

this, the wind wrestled from
the movement of your body–
a plastic bag above a
subway vent,
near the traffic but somehow
on its own,
its dance–
a spotlight
in the dark mundane.

this, the silk of your skin,
spun from the wake of a
cello’s cloud–
hemispheres of heart,
a world containing worlds,
a song containing songs.

this, you.