Poems by Jonathan Douglas Dowdle

Inset : Jonathan Douglas Dowdle




I sleep away these hours,
Soft in your embrace,
Tracing through the dreams
That run beneath your face
And there in rising, falling,
Beneath the tug, and pull,
Hear the prayer: beckoned,
Hear the answer: spilled.

What shall become then,
Of each man, each woman, pride,
Let them ask the question
To the ebb and flow of tide,
For who shall answer riddles
For which time has no tongue,
That no song has ever written,
That no poet ever sung

Let them spell the answer
As they might please,
Shouting to the heavens,
Or praying on their knees,
This my benediction,
The friction on your lips,
While the taste still lingers
Dreaming of another kiss.


For Want Of Solitude

City streets, lined with blood and howls never speak mercy,
They have their own form of justice, where you learn the stories
Passed down from one generation to the next, and there,
Still the same howl, still the same violence.
It sleeps in secret on other avenues, but is still there,
Stretched out naked in the news, and between buildings,
You can see the glimmer of it on television,
Can hear its tongue clicking over the radio; and all of these things
Spell the same end sum:
We are not wise enough to be
Creatures of mercy, but live in the cell of our own limit,
Amputating our understanding to build a world where
We are as packaged and sold as any item
Sold: damaged and out of date
At a discount store.

Even the lovers have this secret, though they have learned
To play the language better
Than the rest of us.

We amplify the damage to
Wash our hands in blood, red as a town painted
By the carnivorous beasts that eat our dreams,
We are the wolves at the door; and
The children too fearful to answer.

That is what you told me,
That is what I tell you,
But the world must continue on in this manner,
So it is best if you
Pretend not to hear.



False love is worse than no love, slipped
Into boundaries bare, and beaten, black as a stain
That will never scrub out whenever you might cross
The distance of the desire; and the truth comes
Simpler still, in every dawn of understanding
That breaks like a star giving heat, giving birth
To a fresh sun, to a fresh dawn,
That sweet and luxuriant

There is a freedom to being the thing feared,
Even if there is no cause for it, the freedom comes
With its own debts; but there are debts
Either way. The darkest of dreamers never wish
To love people; they want to sculpt their ideas
Onto each bit of flesh as though it were a page,
To create, not to discover; they are
The fantasizers of the universe who topple
Anything they have not named, nor created.

The feared things are left alone, to solitude, to work,
Always the first love, but not the only love,
The worlds that sleep beneath the belly of every man,
Of every woman, from dreams to desires, to hopes
To fears, are always secret landscapes. We wax and wan
Between knowledge and discovery, within ourselves,
Within one another; and these are the ties that bind us,
These, among our few true fortunes.

False love is worse than no love,
For who would play pauper and puppet to the illusions
The heart has sculpted, all wires and scripts
Until the curtain falls?
Better the fear than this, better the presumption of that
Other boxed cage than this, at least in such
We are free, unshackled,
From dreams of debts; of splendor and squalor
That can never be paid.


I Carved My Heart

I carved my heart as the bed I laid down in,
Cold as a corpse on a summer afternoon;
My heart, failed me, but I
Did not fail my heart.

In these rhythms of sowing, reaping,
We brush by the shadow of life
Which bruises and stains, beneath the skin,
With a kiss as sharp as broken concrete.

I carved my heart as the bed I laid down in,
Thinking, this was the best way of seeing the world,
To comb through the worst of each being, like sand,
Find the treasure sleeping underneath; and sometimes,
Sometimes, it’s worth it.

Still, I’ve watched life bury itself, word by word,
Day by day and give way to gallows views
Hanging by the thread of history where every time
The tongue finds a word, it kicks.

In the beating, in the beaten, we destroy so much of the world
Through ourselves. Not every death leaves a body,
But every death leaves a corpse.

I carved my heart as the bed I laid down in, searching
For the crossroads between the dream and the reality only to see
That it is everywhere; and that some of us
Are just bad dreamers.

My heart failed me because it was never deep enough, nor
Wide enough, to encompass a being with a fresh phrase, with a
Fresh vision; but I, I did not fail my heart.

I carve my heart and lay down, waking
From a dark dream on a summer afternoon,
Cold as a corpse shaking off death; shaking off all the things
That have died, and that dream their deaths, daily.

I carved my heart and laid down,

No one can say it wasn’t a worthy sleep.


Curl In

Curl in, to sleep
Like the silence beneath each breath
Where the tempest learns to still
The quaking in your head,
Tremor to tremble out the eddy
Let the moment flow,
Where peace rests deep,
Deeper than you know.

Leave the traffic to scream oblivion,
Flashing lights always set to crash;
Clawing through each artery
Where the heart has always bled,
Place this final wager,
And settle out the debt;
There is music in the silence
Just beneath your breath.

Settle down, soft, into slumber
Leave the traffic to flow;
As you are lifted up
From beneath the undertow.
Curl in to sleep the thought
That nothing must be said,
The answer is softly waiting
Just beneath your breath.


About the author:

Jonathan Douglas Dowdle was born in Nashua, NH and has traveled throughout the US, he currently resides in South Carolina. Previous works have appeared or are appearing in: Hobo Camp Review, 322 Review, The Right Place At The Right Time, Blue Hour Review, Whimperbang, After The Pause, Midnight Lane Boutique, Visitant, and The Big Windows Review.