Saturday, December 05, 2009


Pop Love

In the unlikeliest of places
in a singable song
as you drive the route used
to drag your toddler into nap.

Or taped to a wall in a neighborhood bistro:
We will all wake up together.

Words tumble
spark as they fit
fill corners of the room.

This time the heart lies
in a safe room
undetectable by armies
of skeletal trees in moonlight.

The myth of first love tugs
at the compass needle
but true north is not swayed
for long
cannot be tricked by scenery.
You should definitely be able to live
without being swallowed up.
Shooting stars do not sling
for anyone
or two.
They are long burned out
(we are told)
copies of copies
like us.

Turn off the pop song
the quiet is enough
to wake us.

~j.b. rowell

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Friday, September 25, 2009


As if our dreams are ours
to steer

once split
twin rivers rush on
and on

reacting to terrain
with own refrain

bending banks of shore
in memory
of elliptical strain

carving in pursuit of collective pool
in full glare of day

no place to hide
no time to reflect
by faith the river knows

where stars come to rest

~j.b. rowell

Thursday, September 03, 2009


In the Redwood grove
behind the school,
where my two oldest settle in,
I teach my youngest how to say hi
to the squirrels
to help him not be afraid.

I think about how
almost 20 years ago
I was caught talking to a squirrel
on my way down the dorm steps
"Hi squirrel!"
I said cheerily,
and looked up to see
you walking toward.

I was sure you would laugh
or think I am a loon
or both
but you smiled,

like he smiles
as he takes coins from my pocket
and puts them in his own
and runs off.

~j.b. rowell

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I stare into the window
of the empty house next door

notice a door open
that wasn't open before

or maybe it's a new angle of
sunlight finding the way

spiders claim sills beneath
our own windows reflected

we keep sweeping webs away
while that other house

slowly becomes encased in a feast
of emptiness

~j.b. rowell

Thursday, August 27, 2009


after the fog

gateway to open waters
and storms of the past

I can see it now
from the Berkeley Marina

an alter for this clear day
with my youngest napping in back

two arrows pointing

in the same direction as white sails
the Transamerica building lifting
from the crowding
and Mount Tam

away from earthly yearning to where
searching ends

while Oakland cranes bow
in various levels of praise

~j.b. rowell

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


the bridge is there

inside Indian Rock I know a man sleeps
in a cave with his own urine

pulls orange-gray clouds north
on the string of his dreams

while I keep looking
at where the Golden Gate should be

behind sunrise fog with an expression
you once noticed

when I felt the wind on my face
and smiled with my eyes

~j.b. rowell

Saturday, July 18, 2009


First there's the planning.
Before or after nap?
What to pack in the bag?
How much snack and water?
Reminders to layer; load up the minivan.

Then there's the drive.
Whoever said that it's all about the journey
didn't have kids.

Park in the shade, walk in, read the sign,
learn what to do if we encounter a mountain lion:

#5 "Do all you can to appear larger."

We act out just how that might be done.

#7 "Fight back if attacked."

We pick out good fighting sticks.

Begin our hike,
wait for a striped snake to cross.
Wonder if it's poisonous,
notice how much faster it goes in grass
than on the paved path,
talk about how it moves like a dragon
in the Chinese New Year's parade.

Wait and watch until it disappears into the trees.

Walk 15 minutes . . .
stop for snack,
complain about the snack,
remind them not to drink all of the water so soon.

Decide to head back on the upper trail.
we've had enough already.
The youngest has been screaming
Bee! Bee!
every time something that is not a bee
buzzes his ears.

Remind them to listen to nature . . .

. . .

The oldest announces
that her butt itches,
the middle thinks a mosquito
got into his pants
and is right next to his pickle
and points.

Remind him to call his parts by their real names.
Remind them all to look up at the Redwoods,
Whoa . . .

Back to trudging eyes down
with frequent warnings from them
about poop and poison ivy just ahead.

back on the main path,
our tiny hiking loop is almost closed.

Follow the momentum of Yellowtails
to the parking lot,
remind them not to bring nature in the minivan,
the sticks stay.

~j.b. rowell

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