Harold Bowes edits Alba and his poetry has appeared in various
publications, electronic and print.

Birds Like Pastries, Pastries Like Minerals

Who knew you could name a heron for the night.
Wouldn't that be like naming a bird for the color black?

Night herons hunt and feed after dark,
when bakers start their ovens, and prepare

Donuts and other pastries arrayed like
the minerals in the display cases at a natural history museum.

Among them, an azurite rock, the graduations of blue,
like a fossil record of the sky, during the span of one, quite remarkable, day.

If you stare into a topaz the length of a winter day, you see
when the bakery clerk reaches to open the display

A band of powdered sugar, the width of a sparrow's wing,
visible along the underside of her narrow forearm.

Or is that flour instead of powdered sugar?
A streak like contrails from a jet,

or a solitary snow goose falling inside a cloud?

In any event, at night the Murres ride a dark wave.

Del Norte County

Driving our Prius Plug-in, my wife, daughter and I travel great distances, eat little.

There is nothing you would recognize as civilization along the Northern California coast.

The natives live inside Redwood trunks, hollowed out by fire, helped along by ax.

I exaggerate some.

In nearly every town we find a single screen theater and, this is true, it's a functioning movie house, rather than the usual restored monument to the spirit of community fundraising: original art deco facade, those marquees that jut out

like the prow on a fishing boat.

One is showing Blue Jasmine.

There is no place to stay.

We stay at the Benbow Inn, built in 1929, and pay extra to get the special cottage suite.

We go out to get sandwiches because, you know, the hotel restaurant is just too expensive, and we're following the 5:2 diet.

We go to the nearby town, a place called Garberville or Orick or Arcata or Fortuna or Poverty Flats.

There is a lot there that worries us — for one thing the Subway franchise is in an old gas station building.

Huddled outside the Subway as though around a campfire, seated on the sidewalk, feet on the parking lot: two women and two men, ages around 20, handsome, tall, athletic, thin and beautiful — their bodies like Olympians, or like the prehistoric warriors the Europeans find as the glaciers retreat, perfect in body and form.

Another stands by the entrance to the Subway — she could be a runway model.

No tattoos, no piercings, is this due to a lack of funds or intentional?

The men have unusual haircuts, shaved on left side, long everywhere else — tribal.

The woman standing sentry belongs in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Panhandlers —what else? They have loaded their sub sandwiches with as many vegetables and condiments as will fit inside.

Back in the hotel room using the unfamiliar shower, I fill my left ear with water and my wife tells me to sleep with the left side of my head on the pillow so the water trapped there will escape.

We leave the next morning, headed farther sur —

Daughter in backseat updating her various Instagram accounts, her agile intellect, her perfect mind at work,

taking photos at our stops for her updates,

posting to the account for our cat.

The cat has only 49 followers, despite much effort, and genuine creativity, on the part of my daughter.


That trip was a long time ago. Our cat died of kidney failure last year, and we got a new one. I still worry about those kids, those kids in the North part of California.

Look Here

I look through one end of a narrow cylinder
Clover grows in dense clumps over the ground
In the distance I see a visitor

My dear departed mother had a medical career
Explained the different cells, "The red ones round"
She looked through one end of a cylinder

In those clumps she could spot the four-leaf clover
How to say this? "Like a bloodhound"
In the distance I see a visitor

Her soul a black boat drifting — no power
A taupe green sea goes to the horizon and around
I look for her through one end of a cylinder

A child, I searched the night sky
I have no spatial sense — I could have drowned
In the distance I saw a visitor

He was tall, speaking and holding a small white flower
Then I couldn't hear the man — no sound
I looked through one end of a cylinder

I wish my family history would end here

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