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Kenneth Alewine

The Sower

Café de Nuit

The Sower

The sower walks the unplowed soil
the spring in his step breaking a fall.
Casting invisible seeds across cropped
circles and planes, he is the rain prophet
balanced by good light.

Solitaire painter, uninhabited planet-scale fields
he works haloed among the rings of an exaggerated sun
and sleeps to moon-cool nights in a yellow house,
as the deep earth dreams the wheat
in the cracked cellar of his mind.

Yellow ochre and burnt Siena offerings
mime the forms of a distant mentor, the elder sower,
that noble figure he’s seen slug
charcoal-faced from the mines of the Borinage.

The pilgrim grabs a low-lying cloud
seeks the storm that tears the earth
and uproots his long stand among
the blackthorn hedges and stone
streets of Arles.

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Café de Nuit

He loved astronomy and painted
the night wearing candlesticks around his head.
His stars look like pan-fried eggs, light
exaggerated like his gas lamps
over the pool table in the Café.
Shimmering, impasto rings of orange-green

light scald the room filled with the stinging
throats of empty liquor bottles.

Tables circled by vagabonds and prostitutes
sleeping off another night of bad years
while the painter, awake and nervous,

imagines olive groves and cypress trees.

The room seems to digest them,
red walls and ceiling painted in churning greens.
Last drops of absinthe, little green fleas draining
their color, the cold eating crispy leaves

these underfed monks
these bony, anemic chairs.


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Kenneth Alewine is researching illness narratives in the PhD program at the Institute for Medical Humanities, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. His work has appeared in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Psychic Meatloaf, Aura Literary Arts Review, and is forthcoming from Poetry Quarterly.

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