Two Poems by Clint Bowman


The multiflora rose
by the back patio
is strangling
our lilac bush.

Ronnie, next door,
offered his Roundup—
but I told him,
“That stuff gives you cancer.”

Now I’m two feet deep
in the tangles,
and my white shirt
is slowly growing
red polka dots.

You gifted me this lilac
ten years ago for my birthday
with a card that read,
“Don’t let me die.”

I promised you I wouldn’t.

But I couldn’t save you
that night you huffed paint
and played with
your father’s pistol.

If I were there,
I would have told you,
“I’m keeping my promise.”

Like I am now,
crawling on my knees,
pulling weeds,
giving our lilac
my water.



I want to go back

to where the deer
don’t run in my presence,

and the frogs keep singing
as I stomp through the creek.

Back to where
closets are full

of shotguns—
locked and loaded,

and the old gas station
is run by a woman
who calls me baby
and takes the tax
off my bottles.

Where farmers
offer me cigarettes,
and even though
I don’t smoke,
I entertain the idea
over ramblings

about local roads
that stitch together
our kin—

threads so tightly knit,
all the heat stays in,
so those frogs
can’t stop singing,
and the deer have learned—
there’s nowhere to run.


Clint Bowman is a writer from Black Mountain, North Carolina. During the day, Clint works as a recreation coordinator leading hikes, river cleanups, and other outdoor programs throughout the Swannanoa Valley. In the evening, Clint facilitates the Dark City Poets Society- a free poetry group based out of the Black Mountain Library. More of Clint’s recent work has appeared in the Roanoke Review, Poetry South, and Louisiana Literature.

Nonno by Clint Bowman

For my grandfather

Graveside poinsettias
wilt in winter frost—

I walk by them
in yesterday’s clothes,
solemn as a silent film.

My memory holds on
to everything
like a shallow grave
in a flood plain.

The slightest sound
of certain songs,
and smell of old cologne,
resurrect you
to my consciousness.

I’m unable
to decompose the past
with your hand-me-downs
wrapped around my waist
and draped across my shoulders.

So you remain
a plastic bouquet
always in bloom
next to the graves
of others I never knew.

Hopefully one day
I’ll join you
in the flower shop
of heaven,
where we’ll pick out
my arrangement
through the hands
of our descendants.


Clint Bowman is a writer from Black Mountain, North Carolina. During the day, Clint works as Recreation Coordinator leading hikes and other outdoor programs. In the evening, Clint co-facilitates the Dark City Poets Society- a free poetry group offered through the local library. More of Clint’s work can be found in the California Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Plum Tree Tavern, and Main Street Rag.