PF detail from Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Beach Scene, Guernsey (Children by the Sea in Guernsey) - 1883;


Copyright © 2011 Pirene's Fountain.


All Rights Reserved.

Author of 7 collections of poetry, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, author of “Musings” (a weekly column on poetry), founder of Poetry Hickory, Vice President of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and a writer of reviews of contemporary poetry. His work has received awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers’ Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. Born in Greenwood, SC, he has lived in NC for the past 25 years and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College.

Looking for Faces in the Night Sky | Original Sin | In the Cathedral of Fallen Trees


Looking for Faces in the Night Sky

These are things anyone could have made
up.  The stars are nothing but stars,
and playing dot-to-dot in the night
sky makes anything possible.
Years ago from the stone porch
my grandfather pointed them out:
the lion, the great bear, the hunter’s sword.
This one he called Mary and showed me
how the stars made a woman’s face.

Looking for faces in the night sky
we string stars into shapes of things
we fear or long to remember.
I see spider, sparrowhawk, bobwhite.
This one I’ll call woman becoming
an angel, the grotesque buds of wings
sprouting in her back.

First published in Something Knows the Moment,
Main Street Rag, 2011


Original Sin

The sun was bright that day,
burning the skin of my arms,
my uncovered head, burning
the necks of grain I cut.

My brother sat in the shade
cutting the hair and throats
of lamb, letting their blood
drain into the ground, piling

their fat on altars to burn.
Why should he be favored?
What sacrifice made he?
The sun was bright that day

in a time of killing, when men
were marked for safe-keeping.
And I was a child of the times,
son of my mother, father

of sin.  I heard the blood
of brothers crying out
from the ground, heard
the heat of the day moaning

in my head.  I rose up
from the rows, the seed of earth
in my hand. I was the elder
son, returning to the land

the life taken from it.
I became the father of choice,
explorer of sin and other
dark places.  I opened

my brother’s body as I opened
the land to plant this seed
of knowing. I was the third
to be driven, to demand

the knowledge of men and women.
I could not be the Lord’s
shepherd, destined to shepherd
the earth, move where it needed.

I could not live my brother’s
life of unasking grace.
I was his lover, his slayer.
I became what keeps him alive.

First published in Something Knows the Moment,
Main Street Rag, 2011


In the Cathedral of Fallen Trees

Each time he thinks something special
will happen, he’ll see the sky resting
on bent backs of trees, he’ll find
the wind hiding in hands of leaves,

he’ll read some secret love scratched
in the skin of a tree just fallen.
Because he found that trees were not
forever, that even trees he knew

grew recklessly towards falling,
he gave in to wisteria’s plan
to glorify the dead. He sat down
beneath the arches of limbs reaching

over him, felt the light spread
through stained glass windows of leaves,
saw every stump as a silent altar,
each branch a pulpit’s tongue.

He did not expect the hawk to be here.
He had no design to find the meaning
of wild ginger, to see leaves soaked
with slime trails of things just past.

He thought only to listen
to the persistent breathing of trees,
to quiet whispers of leaves in wind,
secrets written in storied rings.

Each time he thinks something special
will happen.  He returns with a handful
of dirt, a stone shaped like a bowl,
a small tree growing rootbound against a larger.

First published in Something Knows the Moment,
Main Street Rag, 2011