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… focus there.

By J. K. McDowell

March 2017


Have you traced the lines in your lover’s right hand?

The future is there, time to savor the details.

Now look next to the iris of each eye, stare deep.


Have you traced the streaking comet in the night sky?

The day job exhaustions drag you to sleep too early.

The wonders of the world are not nine to five.


Have you traced the tears on a refugee’s face?

Jesus sees the unreported atrocities there.

We are hollow witnesses to horrors and beauty.


Have you traced the panic piling softly around us?

The streets empty, empty of kindness, except

The plastic strands of color: purple, green and gold.


Have you traced the lies that swirl the storms of chaos?

The walls shudder and shake.  The screams – your precious

Collection of poisons fall from the shelf and shatter.


Have you traced the Soul in the dreams of your Friends?

Ignore the trafficking of swipes and clicks and views.

Listen when I tell you James K., you must focus there.


… Not at an End.

By J. K. McDowell

January 2017


No worries, I am here with you in this darkness.

Open your eyes and see what I see in the brightness

Of your own heart. Vision spirals anew and beyond.


Illusions abound, veils and curtains shift unseen.

Some dreams melt away; others sift in a soft breeze

Or in the whisper of a lover. Moonlight helps.


The Tyger and The Beloved know the horrors

Are asymmetric. Yet the answers to most

Of the rhyming questions the poet asks are still “yes.”


Did you see the Moon tonight? What if the answer

Is “no”? What if the answer is “no, never”?

You really are lost, aren’t you? Not sure what else to say.


You realize too late her eyes are two arsenic

Mirrors. Chemistry confuses alchemy and

Death confuses Love. There is that moment James.


The night is dark, an air painted pinot noir.

The wine glass is empty, so few drops of kindness.

Two Oh One Seven? No, the world is Not at an End.

… beginning comes.

By J. K. McDowell

December 2016


They must have always been there, the rotting breath,

The cruel stares, the festering and foul whispers.

Yet, I never ask myself, “Who are these people?”


Choose: the eye of the needle; the head of a pin.

Angels and camels, counting and recounting,

And despite the outcome, we miss the point.


We need to keep reminding each other of

The uncountable connections to the beautiful

And the numinous. Sometimes there is poetry.


Dreams escape us as we cross over to the

Latter half of the final month of a year so

Strewn with carnage. “Are you seeing this too? Tell me.”


At times the creativity coils slow like the

Python. I prefer to just gently tug the whiskers

Of a napping jaguar and see what happens.


James, the “D” stone has no color, lost in light.

There is no perfect diamond, poem or year.

With the deftness of a dream a great beginning comes.

… hidden doorways.

By J. K. McDowell

October 2016


The eyes close, the palms touch, the knees kiss the dirt.

Or a column centers a spinning disciple.

The Divine knows the Heart and the many ways to pray.


I have swept the path all week; all you need is a

Straw broom and the dance steps of Divine devotion.

These gathering blessings mingled among the dust.


Do you know these aggressions and transgressions,

Those above and beyond the usual forgiveness?

I cannot speak for the Divine, here or ever.


The Divine, behind the eyes of the One you Love.

Keep staring, keep dreaming. Not greed or desire,

Rather visions, made real over and over again.


Sweet Divine, never let me go.   I am a twisted

Tight tourniquet in your hands, soaked, stained,

Yet sustaining. Each beat, disaster averted.


There are many paths that lead to the Divine.

James, you never ask about the Kingdom Within.

The secret silent keys that unlock hidden doorways.

… any creative life.

By J. K. McDowell

November 2016


A fresh corpse hangs in the branches and I know

I am now in the right part of the jungle forest.

The question is my Friend, where is the Jaguar?


What blight and oblivion feed his intellect?

What neglect and disregard feed her revenge?

Blades crisscross – know these are not two separate questions.


The air is thin, the spaces between are even

Thinner. Do not panic, a soft breath sometimes

Stays unnoticed by the terrors. I did say sometimes.


I turn my face away in perfect timing

As the multitude of boils on my right arm

Burst in fluidic fireworks. This is a good dream.


The engravings on this ancient skull are not

Postmortem. I wonder at the fine skill and

Psychotropics, the courage of both healer and healed


James, I just finished reading your obituary out loud.

The portraits on the wrinkled bills in my wallet wept in grief.

No currency can lengthen the thread of any creative life.

… come together.

By J. K. McDowell

October 2016


Caustics are of no use against the alchemical

Torments of ones own making. Beneath the grimore’s

Marbled endpapers a formula appears.


The keyboard clack clicks as I tap out the hack of

My own consciousness. I review the code and

Imagine the bytes beneath and the lost pointers.


Istanbul artisans know the gel-git tracing’s

Beneath heaven’s illness. Despite the design,

Worms feed – even on lost feathers of angel wings.


A desire beneath insane digests the lining

Of what I thought was my inner strength. My hidden

Disposition twisting, uncoiled and unpleasant.


Miss G. says, “The place you should go is Tangier.

Alice and I’ve spent three summers there, and it’s fine.”

The demons in the desert were beneath mentioning.


Morocco was already whispering promises in

My ear, the cool burn of claws beneath my scalp.

Sips of whiskey as poem and plan come together.

… in sorrows.

By J. K. McDowell

October 2016


The foyer is haunted by the soft scent of a

Decaying gecko. Some explorers never

Return. We merge and mingle incomplete sorrows.


On a lazy Sunday there is always more

Poetry to be written. The tour of a friend’s

Rose garden is postponed. I sip slow sorrows.


Tomorrow, another classmate’s obituary

Will be printed. Wait, some days this is not so.

Someday this will never be so. Sip more sorrows.


The lockbox is perfumed; the claw is small and

Covered in soft fur. My desires hopelessly

Inseparable from her sweet gifts and sorrows.


Hardware store aisle end cap reminds me that October

Still falls within the Season of Named Storms.

Clouds gather and spiral around other sorrows.


Not home, but wandering the streets of Tangier,

French radio beckons from the corner café.

No dance steps but I am never lost in sorrows.

… always Love more.

By J. K. McDowell.

July 2016.


There is much to celebrate and much to lament.

The alchemy works! Too long I have used

Detachment as a shield against enchantment. No more!


Bible or no, “Fisher of Men,” we all know the phrase.

Caught in the Net, the Matrix, the Mesh… Sorting the

Digital debris of “Likes,” we always want more.


Auto-drive is stuck on Accelerationist.

We want, we want, we want. Really? A cancerous

Ecology confuses abundance with more.


Morning breaks, the cardinal calls, the conure screeches.

Two empty shells, lives found shattered. Not a good day.

Jesus they are not listening anymore.


A parabolic path over rusted razor

Wire, the flaming arrow strikes me center chest,

Only to find my Heart is missing. Please feel more.


These Shadows, uninvited guests, arrive late.

Still, torture, murder and genocide are not welcome.

Never forget James, you can always Love more.

… always stranger.

By J. K. McDowell

May 2016


We cross into the season of named storms.

This dreaming dust awaits a baptism by lightning.

Realize that a once familiar shore is now stranger.


A flash of insight is often needed to move

Along the spirals of memory and belonging.

Odds are the face in the mirror is stranger.


A darkness fills wonderland and the hookah burns

With a new blend of herbs. Inhales, curiousier

And curiousier, become even stranger.


Strength and honor, we stand in the danger beyond

The pale. Weaponless at the ready, hands clasped,

“So say we all” in a cadence never stranger.


The steel for vermin. Despite your justified

Atrocities James, the beheading by a friend is

Always preferred to any cut by a stranger.


Duende, so close to death, this poetic pursuit.

There is no choice here, the inexplicable fears

Disappear and what remains is always stranger.

… and truths confused.

By J. K. McDowell

March 2016


I have eaten my imagination by mistake.

Healer, tell me how does soul mending work?

This is a wounding before “once upon a time.”


Leap but do not expect the net to appear.

That extra day last month set you back weeks.

An apocalypse planner is rarely reliable.


I suppose the anger is from a zigzag mix

Of emptiness and enchantment. Freezer burn,

These leftovers, even warmed, are unfit to eat.


Tonight the call goes out cryptically universal.

Touching everyone and impacting a few.

Spirit fingers tipped with invisible sparklers.


Mealtime, the woodpecker hammers the oak, a distant

Yet reassuring sound. Hallowed echoes and

Elsewhere dinner conversation dissolves in anguish.


James, this is an asymmetrical voyeurism.

Infection and conjuring, touched at a distance.

Dances of windows, mirrors and truths confused.