By Neal Bowers b. 1948 Neal Bowers
Sent in after new ground was taken,
my father ducked from ditch to shell-hole,
unwinding the telephone cable behind him,
a pfc. cast as Mercury, connecting   
the gods with the lesser gods.

Funny to think of him trailing
the complex filament of speech,
that man, neither shy nor sullen,
who answered only “Yes,” “No,” “Maybe,”
and never volunteered a private thought.

Standing off with his hands in his pockets
or cupping a cigarette, he seemed to be waiting
with the great rural patience of fields
for whatever might rise pure and nameless
or fall from the sky beyond explanation.

If anyone asked what he was thinking,
he said, “Nothing,” and when he died
he rushed out leaving everything unsaid,
uncoiling a dark line into darkness
down which a familiar silence roars.

Neal Bowers, "Communications" from Out of the South, published by Louisiana State University Press. Copyright © 2002 by Neal Bowers.  Reprinted by permission of Neal Bowers.

Source: Out of the South (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)

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Poet Neal Bowers b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Neal  Bowers


Neal Bowers grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee. He received a PhD from the University of Florida and taught for many years at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He has written novels, nonfiction, and several collections of poetry, including Night Vision (1992) and Out of the South (2002), which won the Society of Midland Authors 2002-03 Poetry Prize. Set in rural Tennessee, the book captures the experience of growing up in the . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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