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Poetry by Harold Bowes




God I love this bar:
the broken down stools,
the black stains across the carpet,
all about the same size,
too dirty to be part of a pattern though.
God I love this bar
on blues night when the songs
are about being lonely,
and everyone is so ugly too,
even the young ones.
I love how they know each other.
When they walk in from outside,
they find someone at the bar
they know well enough to hug.
They're not lonely then are they?
I love how I have these thoughts
I don't have anywhere else.
Like: there is enough skin
on the side of this woman's head,
on each side, to fit another face.
That would be two additional faces,
and it's like that for everybody,
but you hardly ever realize it,
or think about it anyway,
except here in this great bar.
I love how this woman sits down near me,
and there's this tension that gets established.
I love this bar.
The red light.
The lack of light.
Drinking beer from a bottle.
The neon.
The red light.
The lack of light.
Drinking beer from a bottle.
The neon.
The fairly horrible band.
This, this tension.
It goes on too long.
Which way to the exit, OK, there it is.
And my car keys flash under the streetlight
like a drop of particularly reflective rain.
She comes out right behind me.
Walks to her car.
I think her hair is nice,
how it covers those extra faces.
She would have talked to me.
She would have been a good talker.
God I love this parking lot.
Then her headlights following me
out onto the street.





Our fifth-wheel looks completely different
in the evening light: three dimensional,
and banded in shadow. I'm glad that
we came out here to talk.

We talk about what we would do
if we had the winning Powerball ticket,
how we would funnel the 280 million dollars
into charitable trusts and put your father
and mother, my brothers and sisters,
on their boards and payrolls, and,
as we look out over fields to the horizon,
the clouds start to turn a rose color.

Standing here in the half light,
we talk about how far we have come
and how far we have to go,
where we were yesterday,
where we will be tomorrow,
and as we talk the lights in the trailer court,
the one next door to this campground
that we're parked in, start coming on.

While you massage my back, and,
as the rose tint is leaving the clouds,
I begin to think that we will make it.

Out a quarter mile I can see
the wind moving through
the darkened leaves in a cottonwood,
its bark as white as hope
in the dim sunlight.



About the Author

Harold Bowes's poems have appeared in Acorn, Portland Review, and Snow Monkey, in raggedy monthly newsletters, on the wall above a doorway in someone's house, in kanji on a scroll, on cell phone emails and, once, on a bookmark. He is a poetry editor at the Hugo-nominated ezine Strange Horizons.