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Late January, Rural Indiana
Daniel Bowman Jr. (bio)

Beneath the river birch
a plump blue jay
pecks at frozen ground.
I’m thinking about
how I watch too much TV lately
and that Gary Snyder is still alive
and how I never want
to be where I am even when it’s where,
many years before, I longed to be.
Now the snow comes and
I’m thinking about
my boyhood in New York,
the taste of sweat and snow
on my upper lip
coming in after sledding,
the smell of my father’s
bitter Food Club instant coffee,
how some dinner scrap
always seemed to fall
beneath the burner, smoke
under a sauce pan of boiling water.
Vickerman Hill being impassable
in the lake effect storm,
my grandma could not get into town;
someone would need
to stop at Shibley’s
to pick up a half-gallon of 2%
and the Evening Telegram.
I would stand in front of the fire
after my father turned a log
with the poker and the embers
flared new warmth.
Careful, he’d say—
because sometimes a spark
would shoot out from a hidden place
through the iron grate’s ashy curve.

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