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… 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.

… uncanny shadows.

By J. K. McDowell

May 2016


Desperate times, I filled my pillow with the

Ashes of my failed scribbling from last month.

No inspiration, just more and more night terrors.


There was no comfort in his archived photos.

False hopes flourish in the rotting decay of guilt.

In anger, she deleted the laptop’s hard drive.


A beautiful sight from shore, the storm layers

And builds. We forget the shipwreck of our lives,

Trapped in the delight of our own desolation.


Even the most beautiful eyes are not enough

To sustain any vision of the future.

Steamed milk frothiness, I kissed her lips again.


There is deep work that has to be done alone.

Candles burn all night as we rip out the threads

Of inappropriate stitching – a darkened poetry.


Do not worry, fear twists the in-between places of the

Imagination. So, like most mystics James,

Your inner light casts odd and uncanny shadows.

New Poem: “… sea chantey.”

… sea chantey.

By J. K. McDowell.

December 2015.


Seeing things in black and white, you can rarely tell

That the blood spiraling down the drain is really

Just chocolate syrup – unless your own is spilled.


What is the safe distance from your darkest secrets?

Delight and sorrow – the fragrant rose and piercing thorns.

What are we to each other? Five paces, turn and fire.


The nib of the pen carves through the emotion,

Setting in place the envisionment. Cold water

Screams rarely provide any satisfying terror.


I reflected on the failed harvest and wonder

Over the defeat and the blame of liberty.

We do not see the blood seeping from the asphalt.


The dervish orbits the column and poetry flows.

This is an inertia that spins me through the

Fatigue that challenges the creative spirit.


There is a storming chorus that reminds you of your

Insignificance. James, I am so pleased to

Finally hear your own voice in this sea chantey.

New Poem: “… to give.”

… to give.

By J. K. McDowell

February 2016


There are lost found poems, there are found lost poems.

In the sorted differences, January slips through your fingers.

Fear grips a freshly sharpened pencil, begin again.


The claws and fangs of this New Year are showing.

Have you been stealing from my collection of crucifixion nails?

The neglect of routine mending has finally let in the cold.


Everyone seems to have forgotten the gifts

They opened on that blessed morning last year.

We demand salvation but bring no charity.


I have filled the cracks in the mirror with gold.

I am not sure I cut myself any less while shaving.

The scent of Moroccan Myrrh fills the bath.


This year, the King Cake madness has come too early.

Garish charades and crowded parades overrun

The common sense of prudence and compassion.


I am gathering the colored shards of shattered

Contemplations. James, don’t tell me what you want

Or what you think. Tell me what are you going to give.

… the stabbing.

By J. K. McDowell.

December 2015.


The last domino falls, the workweek is done,

For now. I cannot recount the insignificant

Accomplishments – The best, the worst, you know the crimes.


There is a lot of talk about “The Other.”

Some foreign dignitary of inferior rank.

All this attention, so tell me, are you to blame?


You know, your sovereignty depends on no one.

That is the idea. Do not call me to supper

Expecting me to prepare the meal. I am the One.


You know the phrase: “Ain’t no one like me but me.”

Torn apart, put back together, over and over.

We are this perfection and we did ask for this.


Break with the chains of tradition that enslave us.

I know the fear, the threats, the wounds, the soul’s emergence.

Sit with me, I will call the healers to come.


James, there is an aloneness that can break the camel’s back.

The desert sand makes for a soft sweet landing.

Ah, then the knives come out, ready for the stabbing.