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… of death.

By J. K. McDowell

June 2019


Between the darkened hours we ponder the charcoal

Sketches of nameless terrors in undimensioned forms.

Unseen, not alone, we drink tears of blood in dread.


Quiet, keep moving, these flesh trade tracks are fresh.

Flash card meat markets mesh with glamour and glee.

I hear the mermaid mornings overflow with grief.


In the blurred-pixel image, no one is saved.

To the end, they held tight.  And we will do less.

They are face down, drowned in our shallow regard.


Buried in an avalanche of apologies.

Shards of hallway mirrors haunt our memories.

Candlelight conversation, regrets rein regardless.


I squint to focus, the outline forms in surf and foam.

A grey whale corpse aground on a west coast beach.

I have no grip, no grasp, on these things you show me.


What choice:  the calendar, the hourglass, the door?

The splintered eye casts a confused vision.

James, welcome to the caravanserai of death.


… forever lost.

By J. K. McDowell

August 2018


A noisy bar, nowhere special, just Tangiers.

In the far booth is Paul Bowles, the expat novelist.

You’ve recently arrived from Paris, never lost.


We really do not know how to count down the days.

Endless, forever, rise, set, none are for us.

Eternity to cross infinity – I’m still lost.


I trace the moonlight across the desires of touching

Your naked skin.  I am awake, but this is your dream.

The Moon interrupts and asks, “Are you lost?”


Are you lost?  An important and curious question.

Is there poetry here?  Another query?

Can we please go back to when the answers were lost?


The pause is essential, then the venomous strike.

Bowles sits in the corner, arabesque tile suites the room.

The hand is near the mouth, the chance is not lost.


The desert – a baptism of solitude yet

No sheltering sky, only the Beloved’s Eyes

And in that vision, I am holy, forever lost.

… the modern.

By J. K. McDowell

March 2018


A banquet of close friends, strangers, enemies

And some pieces of me.  All feeding, yet still ever

Hungry for the quick passing of the months ahead.


There was the Twelfth Night of 1897.

I survived, others attending did not.

The story is unfinished, part one at an end.


Aware, unforgettably aware, moist at the

Surface of the corpse cold aluminum bottle

Of beach wood aged brew.  Tell me, where is the King?


How else do we sustain the ancient virtues?

The blood days are here.  Never heard of virtue or blood?

You know we have much work to do, the time is now.


James, I would not encourage such attitudes.

Poisons are potent potions of past remembrances.

Not every antidote is wrapped salvation.


The suppression of our natures continues.

We are the true monsters who abduct our false selves

From the deep dark nightmare slumbers of the modern.

… Carcosa returns.

By J. K. McDowell

February 2018


No clouds, the lidless eyes of twin suns scorch my soul.

I turn from the dawn, the dark seas glimmer and beckon.

The longing for ancient Carcosa returns.


Poetry reading at The Court of The Yellow King.

Never say no to any lover of your work.

My tear-filled grief for Carcosa returns.


We want the unseen demons beneath the surface.

The crushing depths felt in every cold embrace.

Her desire for the ways of Carcosa returns.


Black stars rise and strange moons cross.

Sparkling cava pours and dark duels erupt.

The vengeance of lost Carcosa returns.


Silent cyphers screaming, the blood days are here.

Tatters of freedom remain and still rein.

James, do not pray that strange Carcosa returns.


Poisons are potent reminders of trespasses.

Any and all antidotes simply delay your death.

Now the ancient curse on Carcosa returns.

… linger.

By J. K. McDowell

January 2018


Midnight.  The end has come, until next we meet.

The unreality dismantles as arranged.

Alas, no traces, only the memories linger.


Andalusian soundscapes with a simple click.

Federico, you’re my best friend ghost poet but

We were never lovers, yet the rumors linger.


Betwixt and between – this is not on any map.

I close my eyes to the digital distractions,

The beauty of your mystery must still linger.


A Monday maelstrom is cleared by a mudslide of grief.

Choked in the sweetness of this spiral dream where

I hear those words: “do you have to let it linger?”


Welcome to the first ghazal of Two Oh One Eight.

James, you might be my favorite poet but

Forgetfulness asks politely, please do not linger.


You shoot the arrow directly into the blinding

Noonday sun.  There are moments when timeless words

Are not welcome and my silent curses linger.

… more recollection.

By J. K. McDowell

December 2017


I am ever becoming a thing of more knowing

And more unknowing.  The spiral unrelenting,

Cuts in both directions, inward and outward.


Perhaps our lives are half dream and half nightmare

Yet we do not know which is which.  Running headlong

Into terror instead of just falling into joy.


A desperate guilty war criminal drinks poison

At sentencing.  Certainly, a form of justice

More humane than an impromptu firing squad.


Careless tending of the soul – the roots and the branches

Interleave, everything becomes inseparable.

Careful tending of the soul – ah, same results.


We all know those connect-the-dots puzzle books.

By your hand, the angel you pencil in, is a demon in my eyes.

This is how abject malice becomes public policy.


Where do our shadows go when we step in darkness?

Tell me James, I know you have done this a few times.

So for you, poetry is not escape, instead more recollection.

New Work: “… so drink.”

… so drink.

By J. K. McDowell

November 2017


The clocks turn back, but no hour of sadness is lost.

Jays screech and morn the oaks gone before the storms.

No restful shade, no escape, shallow breath, sunlight glare.


Custom alloy wheels melt in the street, shimmering.

Modern metal cannot endure ancient grievances.

We are burning, send for a shaman or a poet!


I wake up.  Now the cracks in the paint are bleeding.

Something is not working; I bought the wrong primer.

Another project gone malignant and awry.


Free falling – all night long – I think I love you.

You are Dead at what: 66, 64, 67?

Numbers beyond my father, maybe not me.


“Not at an End” – poetic words you once wrote James,

Before blasts and bullets ripped through quiet prayers.

As-Salaam-Alaikum – Wa-Alaikum-Salaam.


Whiplash of emotion, yet this is where we thrive.

Tears stream from sugar cane joy to rock salt sadness.

Absinthe green pales to the white of arsenic – so drink.

… few endure.

By J. K. McDowell.

September 2017


This darkness is sticky, more like napalm than grease.

I am lost burning beyond a soothing coolness.

The question saves me, how much more can I endure?


They circle, high, out of sight, but your scent is an

Easy trail.  We need these vultures of conscience

To pick clean our hypocrisy.  Some pieces endure.


We debate the Spiral – its meaning in crash space.

The crypto-key dissolves in the bright discussion.

Rest assured my Friend, everything will not endure.


The mailbox is full of the stings of scorpions.

There is not enough time to plan anything.

The future ruined your reunion, yet you endure.


Help us James, aren’t you the brother of Jesus?

The promised ending never comes.  Please, tell me how

Many more second comings do we have to endure?


See this geomancy traced in the desert sand?

You know the spelling of words that are not spoken.

Poets share an understanding that few endure.

… my things.

By J. K. McDowell.

July 2017


Ancient declarations are still relevant.

Tyranny finds the words of Adams, Franklin and

Jefferson less that a delight.  Some know such things.


I am not carrion.  My sky burial is a

Welcome event for the winged demons to

Sweep down and pick away at the tender things.


What die roll will save us?  The campaign seems at an end.

I am trapped at the crux of the matter.

I scream her name: “Eleven” and wait for stranger things.


We flip upside down and foreclose on flim-flam-ville.

A billion-dollar valuation in the cypher

Of a drop of blood.  Extinction brings new things.


The desert sand, cold like snow with no wetness.

A cloud ruined sunrise.  Other blessings, no witness.

And the just retaking of Mosul – atrocities are not things.


Of course!  Despite the remains, the moustache perfect.

Do not carry around last month’s poem and

Please, oh please, James, stop touching my things.

… of endarkenment.

By J. K. McDowell.

June 2017


Enlightenment, malignant in its damp blindness.

The water oak rots from the inside, out of view.

Somewhere a poem mentions my endarkenment.


Impossible things before breakfast?  Try three key

Limes squeezed into a Japanese cold brew dark roast.

Taste, now you know what I mean by endarkenment.


On Thursdays, I despise my imagination.

Sometimes the week recovers.  Savor the holy

Trinity of herbs and scents of endarkenment.


After supper, we talked all night in the olive grove.

The denials stretch centuries past the cock’s crow.

Jesus taught me a lot about endarkenment.


James, you could lie and say that demon claws lead to

Your bleeding arm.  No one believes a poor manicure

And nervous scratching leads to endarkenment.


The storms test our limits as failures fold around us.

The death of a school chum stretches our mortality.

Disenchantment comes with the lack of endarkenment.