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Summer Local Writers Series: Feature 4: John Russel Bowman

The Summer Local Writers Series features works produced by New Orleans poets and prose-writers as part of NolaVie’s ongoing correspondence with the city’s arts and culture. The writers selected will be drawn from diverse sets of intellects in order to paint a broader picture of the relationship between language and community, art and structure. The series will focus on writing that speaks to these critical relationships.

Most importantly, the series aims to carry on New Orleans’ legacy as a literary entrepôt. We will experiment with various forms of supplemental material, but the center of each feature will be the text. Put simply, the Series seeks to spotlight some of the good writing that’s happening here, and we hope you enjoy it.

Bowman writes out of considerations of color, space, and radical politics. His poetry is influenced by Emerson and Wittgenstein, along with developments in physics and biology, and tirelessly experiments with sound and form. He has been published on Thermos and in The Mug Review. He currently works for Rebuilding Together New Orleans.


Who’s fed up with the News?

Let us fling money into the streets
From our roofs bright plumage

glass water blood salt oil gypsum milk foam shit mercury paint

In six motions of wind. Trash into chaos sealed in cement hills.

Dream-world decomposure refine desire.

The men imagined ice-cream lava flooding their prison.





Stones half-in
pierced that August…
sprawled on the gravel
lined with jewel-
weed and poison nettle.

To name a shade of green
here where I’ve come
to the edge of roads
wrecked, eroded
of memory’s masses.

Wherever grown
they grew together.

“This crushed salves the burn of its neighbor”

A lesson was. Impatient speaking
clumped along torn-over trails.

Multiflora War, Multiflora War,

Desperate prodigious subtraction
Of sheer density,
Of the whole island
Clear, hacked apart,
Drug to the brim
And burnt. Wet
Scent of the poor burning-stuff.

Seeing what spaces the species had hidden.

Empty theatre over stream,


How the invasion longs.
How the oak submerged in larval etching scrawls:

Sluggish. Ice-Aged

People abolished

Still source
in stone bowls
a writing in stone

Built over impact

Crater anywhere,
Cradle mill pools.

I had cataloged each tool in the see of my use,
living spartan in a barn with the slashers.





In renovation of honeycombs’
safe-houses broken exactly on contact,
construction of
stories and stories
store after store,

the scrawled-over scratched walls

conceal a mirror law

broken through to one

always everywhere aware

of prices of fire,

of colors of grass.

And couched within such visions

Up and down hectares of hothouses
my shadow spun broad angles through transparent halls,
enormous panes of glass!

Through greenways struggle
these mill-wheel eyes by which worlds fall.

green red yellow brown black orange purple

Tree uprooted and branch-less

Along the periphery spasms


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

after-image after-image after-image after-image after-image after-image

Gray-bodied home the lightning chimes.

Made us to lie
down and lie still,

safety of seed
shaken from ancient
hierarchies of sex.

Original mimic of blossom
our genital hands grasp worlds
like stems.

Symmetry of the syllable
swelling the fruit-rot.



those who tamed the hive…

Hermaphrodite bud-heads split
into flames and flame vanishes.
All art and all science a product
of rain, the illusion of rain
as it shoots from its pools.

Out from the carbon-black
ONE manifold root grips the bank

already undercut by the stream it overhangs.

Spontaneous chemical
life of water-shuttle woven light.
Form which fires and gives birth.

I could not identify my companion
with my body twisted as we turned
onto the Grand Boulevard a simple city
of deep sides and skyscrapers.
A school of prostitutes sat in a crescent
of cafe chairs slicing apples with bright knives,
and what can’t be done with those?
First remove the rot, the surgeon say
as he pays the bill.
Sparse efficient
gesture chosen
to replace the crowd
with sustenance and shade.
A sense of gut chemistry
and paranoia, heavy-headed with money,
tongue-tied and tired. You wanted
to listen in on us,
orgasm like continual offerings
of lucid oblivion,
poor and bored by the wharves
with no window.

Born aggregate
spores in the dust-
strewn lands
bewildered planetary
wandering: whether
such rare
Zones of Solution
encountered utter disintegration,
where nuclei collapse
into pulsar clocks
and collect a photo
fastened in the disc
of time.
Light trumpets
no body
no space in the stone.
Imagination void
of language of all
we repeat awake.
everywhere carved
from technology
discordant pavements
irons ion-cannons
apples for the apples’ sake.
Reality’s wealth the world’s
Death breaks
from the earth flings
another city
bleached white.

Erik Vande Stouwe is editor of the Summer Local Writers Series for NolaVie.


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