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Poetry by Janie Bowman


[emmersion revisited]

weakling sun filters
stands of gathered cypress,
whose knees widen
bare where immersed.
through the light trickles
scarce in shafts, thinning
intermittent on the ground.

further moss obscures
vision, as tenuous
through thick clouds
into mist, a rising chill.
upward stretch, ghosts
in suspense around towers
of trees, confining sight.

water pools low,
and the surface still, still
as no dead torso breathes,
missing ripples long
where algae gods dusted
the sides, this tidal pool
of stolen distant rain.

but long away, listen,
would the water say
sleek nightmare words
as reptilian skins submerge
a parting glimpse, or
passing fleet the tails
of their concealment.

scents lead closer,
bring floating eyes
approach of execution,
as a creature unarmed,
naked, flees letting blood,
well seen but horrified
there frantic for the pool.

gasping in swims,
and water roils the contest
of entanglement, swish
tails and flying spray
have the pale prey
flaying for life, then
breathless, cast ashore.

death could follow
to finish, or questioning
elements, take advantage
to surround and roll over,
a squeezing of lungs, ends
collapsed, suffocated,
and crushing under jaws

but steals away, in stead,
returns the pool, stilling
silent to its own state.
and the morsel lies fallow;
bare skin combusting,
weighted out of water,
in slain exhausted sleep.

what aroused then weary,
of small regret without
a former home, but for gills
to recede, legs to grow straight,
and into airs of marshes
extinguish a gutteral scorch
of sounds to call out,

to assemble all the others.

1998 Janie Bowman


[labor]

fragile night, cold emits
their breaths in steaming air.
to the women, the flames
lend protection,
deflecting light to green
of floating eyes.

the old mother would kneel
forever, though sharp
rocks injure knees,
indent her skin,
and arms stiffen; how she
worries, for too long labor

this young, yet a child,
to convulse in firelight.
hands pleading, and body
pains the trials of tiny babe.
a clearing alone, daring not,
for sure would beasts descend

as now they circle in trees,
growl prickling hunger
and stalk their moments.
if wariness, the women,
would flee or courage fail,
that instant, they would be on.

so she attends, and love mumbles
a young ear, the eyes grateful
though face erupts with cold.
still she prays, desperate voice
from elder mother, remembers
times of birthings past:

say stoke the fire, orange
hot to climb the black sky.
flourish weapons against
raw appetites of earth,
of mindless bloodlust
to pure, defenseless young.

persevere, to defend them
as her birth cries travel
the horizon; those one day
stirring to venture there,
and prosper yet unborn;
oh, deliver them all, you must,

who cannot, for themselves.

1998 Janie Bowman


[predator]

low, the moon in sky
descending the spiked tops
of far, blackened conifers.
he makes way unremarked
to the boyhood tree,
his to claim, grown solid
the course of a single life.

a place of provision, there,
where lessons of youth
honed a predator's skill.
he remarks often, proud,
how heels notched from use,
fit to crouch in the tree's shadow,
and patient, await their steps.

they could sometimes yet
surprise him, with but little
more rustle and snuffling
of steamy breath than he,
but so easy were these hours
to fall in reverie; he could
see the leathered knapper,

or his father, primed so sleek,
teaching points of mark
for arrows to fly home
from even more delicate arms.
he would dream of them,
yearn for them yet again
and almost, almost miss.

but this is not that morning.
brightening not one to meander,
but to rouse each nerve,
senses stung clear through
with fire, and instinct on
the slightest twig crack
or stir of a brittle leaf.

so they waited there, the pair.
distant off a way, to test far
along the current, but late,
for he had them already.
his skill streaking flight,
deep thrumming, a breath only,
and followed, the crashing of leaves.

he pursues the afflicted
over trails splattered
crimson of lacerated life,
the follower, fleeing death,
or to such weakness brought
its knees, fallen, and that
he will dispatch.

the grateful of elders, fathers,
and spirits of every life,
so offering is accepted.
knelt in final blood,
he will praise greatness
of the sacrificed one;
thank strength and skill, his own.

he is, perfected, a predator.

1998 Janie Bowman


[morning hunt]

as the moon filled again,
he lay nearer the cavern's mouth,
basking in bright night
to wonder its expression,
and tally the passage of time.

he tracked the wise face
through many paths of the sky,
knowing, this time,
his fingers mark no more,
yet resign to remain alone.

an outcast, driven from them
by harsh voices, hurling rocks
and sticks, attacked, and all
former loves and partners
crazed to cast him aside.

he harmed the boy, true;
the picture replayed
of strikes returned with shame,
although damage done,
no intent, but never undone.

and for rage, in a moment,
only turns of the moon,
wandering, and the dead
stone floor remain companions
to foster exile.

they would come, late
in the pictures of his sleep,
smiling; he could celebrate
songs, clasp shoulders to love
in the gazes of his children.

and awful to wound him,
a passing essence of flowers
in the cloud of her silver hair;
remembering them all, heart
near broken, would moaning wake.

the longer nights he suffered
for them, until the glow
retuned slowly to morning,
roused him growling inside
to prepare, as he must, to hunt.

of weapons, only necessities
fashioned by his hands,
stones percussion shaped
to skin, and scrape,
and crush bones to marrow;

for travel, a pouch at his side;
and fit his back, next,
with gathered arrows in sheath
skins of slain rabbit;
bow of a young branch of yew.

to the path, his feet falling
soundless as when young
with his father practiced
to be as so much rushing air,
invisible beside the wind,

and so that he heard, close,
a small, halting cry,
stand barely breathing
until again, the whimper
appointed under rocks.

there, where fallen
in the night, an infant cur
revealed trapped and broken,
eyes wild with blood,
and agony of twisted leg.

useless, the pup, to die,
yet he feels, moving away,
the eyes force him,
like loving eyes of children,
to consider...

1998 Janie Bowman

If you would like to contact Ms. Bowman, her email address is: JBowman55@aol.com