Wednesday, July 4, 2018
A Poem by Andrew M. Bowen
Driving to Muncie
The cottage-cheese clouds curdle
as sullen blue churns to swift-running gray;
the storms move in summer's violence,
the rain lashes the earth while thunder grunts,
and lightning dances in sky-high thunder ecstasy.
Great circles drive the kingly storms;
dew and piss and river and ocean
are taken up and then fall down
to feed the floods and ferns and forests.
Where stands the laboratory
that can take the measure of humanity?
What microscope can pin death
and what balance can weigh honor?
What calipers can divine integrity
and what telescope uncover love?
Once, prairies and floods and wild things;
swamps, trees, and living hills
would have conspired to slow my pace.
Now taxpaying populations
have laid these great pavements down,
encasing living, breathing Earth
in clever coats of steel, concrete, and hydrocarbon,
and reducing days to casual hours.
My ease requires the grudging
cooperation of the many to subdue the one.
Like Rasilnokov I stand baffled
by the pair that haunts my brain.
The one wants to sculpt this life
with wisdom, calm, and reverence
and leave a memory of talent
to shine like the first star of twilight.
But the other--the manic profane other--
wants hoisted bottle and bong,
one endless swill of brandy and attitude
before a willing death in bullets and pills.
Life is a tragedy.
We enter the world golden and empty,
yet petty hates and cheap frivolity,
misplaced hearts and withered brains
erase our slates of clean potential.
We hurt from blind blows of fumbling others
and in turn must lash out with closed eyes
and live with the gleeful whips
of shame and rage at failure.
Conscience is the ghost in the secret room.
And now I return me home
and the storms return to greet me.
The brawling rain chops vision into quarters
and lightning breaks from a nuclear point
to crackle down with relativity's speed.
Its sparkling glee mocks all the lights
of the moisture-battered city,
and its beauty that lasts but a glance
and the chaos of the swirling rain
and the proud laughter of the wanton wind
all scream at egocentric man:
"Life is a tragedy.
Enjoy it while you can."
Andrew M. Bowen works as an insurance salesman in Bloomington, IN. He has published 71 poems and recently submitted his first two novels for publication. He is also an actor who has appeared in eight independent films, seven stage productions, and two radio teleplays.