Five Poems

Photo: Lindsay Crandall

Diner, New York

The thought that she can’t stay beautiful much longer
on cigarettes and coffee
nags at her a little more
now that it’s fall.
But not today.
Early Sunday morning, the city forgives her
in its light and silence.
This is how it worships—
a holy refraining,
nothing banging together.
Even the small man at the counter barely chews.


Photo: Lindsay Crandall

After making a promise I knew I wouldn’t keep

I walk by the canal,
by old men playing checkers.

The paint on their table peels;
dead leaves gather at their feet.

I brought my harmonica
to play under the bridge

but when I get there
I feel embarrassed,

hold it inside my pocket.
Try instead to remember a poem

by Emanuel di Pasquale, try
to make a connection

between a mossy tree stump
and a little girl who’s crying.

The mother’s black hair
blows across her face.

I think she might smile,
though in the end she doesn’t.

      Then under the bridge I hear something
(an echo of the blues?)

and the old men playing checkers
sit still for a very long time

and the smooth bank’s mud
resembles my father’s forehead

on Saturday afternoons in summer
when he would smoke cigars and chop Box Elder.


The Sticking

Snow falls into the long gray.

Walking alone
through the village of my birth
makes everything
stick to my feet.
Soon I’ve got Blessed Sacrament
on my right heel,
basket of blue fish flopping
eternal, a young confessor
falling, clinging
to the scarlet curtain.
On my left,
between my toes:
Montana House,
pool balls rolling hard
for the bumper,
Utica Club sign spitting neon
at a woman who’ll be kneeling
across the street tomorrow.

If you’re coming this way,
slow down:
I’m sure to be blocking traffic
in both directions
at least for a few minutes
while I get the sticking under control.


Photo: Lindsay Crandall

On the Shore Just After Sunset

I’m having a cheeseburger and a beer
at Lucky Jim’s
on the shore just after sunset
when I see myself
through the window faintly, barefoot
and unshaven among the seagulls
at water’s edge, kneeling over
my body
which has washed up on the rocks.

The kneeling me looks like
a man who has kept to himself
for too long upon learning
he had been fooled by a grand idea.
He repents only in the face of death.
The dead me is white as an angel,
young and crowned with seaweed.

I want to get up but I remember
I sold my feet at a trading post
in Lexington, Kentucky.
So I come barreling out
of the backroom looking annoyed

and carry myself
down to the beach where I
sit myself down next to the dead me
quietly so as not to disturb
the kneeling me, while
the me that carried me out here
stumbles back
toward the light of Lucky Jim’s,
stained apron flapping in the breeze.


Photo: Lindsay Crandall


     for Hannah Wronkoski Dillon

Something is sinking
behind the heather and laurel,
in the moment between
quarrel and dream.
No one notices.
We can’t; it’s hidden.
Only the silent voice suggests
that to forget
what we never saw,
to un-know what we never knew,
is the way of things.
Yet behind the heather
and laurel something is sinking
and emptiness rises in its place,
tiny as a needle’s eye
through which we, all of us,
will pass like thread.

Daniel Bowman, Jr. holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA in poetry at Seattle Pacific University. His work has recently appeared in journals such as The Adirondack Review, American Poetry Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong), Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Main Street Rag, The Midwest Quarterly, Rio Grande Review, and Seneca Review.

He currently lives in upstate New York and teaches at Houghton College. In the fall, he will be joining the English department at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

Food as Gift