Heath Bowen : Poetry : February 2020

Southern Legitimacy Statement: crawl of the Mississippi Delta, Heath has emerged as a contemporary poetic voice. He has been published in numerous literary journals for both poetry and fiction. He resides in the country just north of the southern roads he once called home.

Southern Virtues

I ride through the winter sunset;
the landing gears turn inward.
Passing strangers step
on my outstretched broken foot;

broke from steel pressed against flesh.
Roadway headlights rolling
the wrong way to meet
my eighteen-wheeler

and a gravedigger. I saw them
shroud his faded rose petal skin
up in black plastic.

Out the window, prairies
of frost left on broken glass.
Interstates curve through one-stop towns
where gamblers forever cheat romantics

lost in half-empty bottles.
I see the moonlight wither
on a wounded star.
I think of Louisville in autumn,
when change was for the better.

Where I spent years distilling corn
and grain only to find the highways
my true calling.

With New Orleans just miles below,
sudden turbulence reminds me why I left
my busted rusting seized engine
of a farmhouse family.

Tears from loved ones form
puddles beside his closed
casket; preacher reads a psalm
about heavenly encounters. The propeller jars me
from reverie, wheels touch runway,
grief is a shaky experience.