The Land of Sky Blue Waters by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

with apologies to James Wright


Forget about the bear paddling
a canoe through neon waves
in this dark bar at the edge of Troost.
A couple huddles in a corner.
Maybe half-drunk, she rests her head
on his shoulder. He kisses her crown
but eyes her breasts.

I try to ignore those two
so I can tell you about a lake,
the sounds of tom-toms,
water rushing over a cliff,
and twilight shadows filling the sky,
about a place far from plastic cups,
cell phones, and freeways.

I want to lie in a hammock there,
hide out from this bar,
where I serve rounds
of gin for men, sweaty
and stinking of tar. I want
to lie under a pine, watch
chicken hawks glide

and squawk at each other.
They fly from their roosts
and soar. Here, waves
keep turning against themselves.
They form a maze
of muddy water: a creek
running dark green, brown, gray.


Originally published in Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017) and in Thorny Locust (Vol. 19.2 2013)


Lindsey Martin-Bowen: A poem in her fourth collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017) reaped an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison (in chapbook form), was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 contest and won the KAC 2017 “It Looks Like a Million.” Her poems have appeared in many lit zines, including New Letters, I-70 Review, Thorny Locust, Flint Hills Review, Coal City Review, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), Phantom Drift, and Rockhurst Review. She holds an MA and Juris Doctor and teaches Criminal Justice classes at Blue Mountain Community College. (To be near children and grandchildren, she followed William Stafford’s spirit to Oregon.) Until then, she taught writing/literature at UMKC, MCC—Longview, Penn Valley, Rockhurst University, and Johnson County CC. Poetry is her way of singing.

Monthly Editor Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices.  She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.


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