June 5, 2015

Three Poems By James Owens: Broken

James Owens lives in Wabash, Indiana. Two books of his poems have been published: An Hour is the Doorway (Black Lawrence Press) and Frost Lights a Thin Flame (Mayapple Press). His poems, stories, translations, and photographs appear widely in literary journals, including recent or upcoming publications in Superstition Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Cresset, Poetry Ireland Review, and The Stinging Fly.



They feared court orders and contracts, brow and shoulders bowed over letters from the bank, looking phrase and clause like a handful of dry lentils, tiny opaque lenses. Their lips trembled before the power of obscure pronouncements. Keys rusted in the locks. The fields, no longer versed in corn, clotted with loosestrife and pigweed. Crows scavenged, psalming hard, their eyes tiny opaque lenses.


But who owns words?
who spoiled
these little puffs of sense,
leaving teeth-marks?

… whereas silence …

the space where a dove rejects consolation,
where hail wakes the dead leaves of an ash
on a morning when as-for-dream
wanders sleep
toward the unbroken world ---

Could I hide silence between my palms,
like the thrush's eggshell,
emptied and weightless,
my son discovered yesterday
in tangles of underbrush,
the overgrown and thorny fallow?

Now this other dream:
he comes to show me that shell,
made whole, hidden all night on his tongue.
It is morning, and he opens his mouth.

(Previously published in Frost Light a Thin Flame, Mayapple Press, 2007)


In October the House Draws Near the Woods


Wind unmakes the day.

Watching at the window
as the maples' red leaves
lick the clumsy wind
and take flight, one by one,

means learning
the trees' dry tongues
are thirsty,
wind is a river to the sea.


I wanted flight, the desire
like a prolonged absence of salt.

I imagined the taste of the earth,
gritty and rich.

The Holiness of Minute Particulars

Tipsy on air as this amazed
parula warbler who discovers
the sun over and
over, whets
his song on
the edge of the oak's shadow.
What the field guide calls
a “rising, buzzy trill,”
noting the yellow patch on the back,
narrow eye ring,
broad white wing bars.
The world of spirit
sustains the world of things.
Or is it the other way?
Like this:
the parula warbler
perches on a sourwood twig.
Like this:
a sourwood twig
holds the warbler up.

 ~James Owens

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