Friday, November 25, 2005


"When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses."
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I'm wondering if poetry is supposed to cleanse, or serve any other specific purpose for that matter. Does poetry have a use or function in society besides the role of art? Maybe it's to tell the truth whenever it can - and that can be cleansing. I'm fairly certain Bush does not read poetry!

As for more practical matters of cleansing, I'm always amazed how we spend the day of Thanksgiving preparing a glorious meal, and before you can digest, the tide has turned and the mad dash to get the dishes done begins. Of course, there are a few who just go and sit - watch football . . . but that's another post . . .

J.B. Rowell

Filled again not with one bowl—
pristine grains dried and clinging to the curve
of ceramic glaze cupped in meditation—

but with the sudden abundance of sippy cups (some way overdue:
lost yet found) and too many spoons
chosen by a fickle four-year-old

through the course of a dinner

greasy chicken pan—floating fat—
lemon pepper olive oil coating
plastic marinade bowl

pot of murky corn water and
to the side
two crystal wine glasses stand


cracked red eyes—
the bottom of arid lakes—
searching for peace down in this basin.

Remembering my grandmother’s
back facing me as she
did the dishes

enjoyed it she said

gave her a sense
of accomplishment

says a child seeing senselessness
in a menial task done soon to be
redone like making a bed

when you will pull back the covers
and lie down in your undoing

I stand after protest—
with only the dishes before me
I pick up a bowl perfumed

with the life that is and begin to scrub
making wine into water
before the white of the sink


Blogger Michelle e o said...

Loved this. Especially the image of your grandmothers back doing the dishes.

12:58 AM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks Michelle - when I workshoped this one, that was the part others responded to as well - the part where one finally entered the poem. Yikes. I've been enjoying your blog - and Confused Muse - could you tell me more about that sometime?

9:46 AM, November 26, 2005  

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