Low Temples Cover

Low Temples

by James Downs

82 pages, retail price $14.00
ISBN: 978-1-63649-692-4

The Book

There's a Piece Missing From My Heart – Joyce Downs

When James and I were dating, he would always have a pen. He would scribble poems on napkins at dinner. He told me that he once wrote a poem on a balloon. He was very adamant that he would not write poetry on a computer. I gave him a journal. He later mentioned that that journal opened his heart to me, that I was more then just a nice lady in the TV room, where we first met.

Yes, there is a piece missing from my heart. But, James mended numerous broken pieces along the way.

I will always love James. He has a piece of my heart, and I have a piece of his.

James went on to write hundreds of poems on his computer.

This book is a gift to all of us from James and a gift from Joyce and myself to James. So many of us found James to be such a good and constant friend, and such a man. We miss him deeply and always. Poetry is one artistic form that is the truest part of a person to live on because it comes from the heart. This came from James’ heart.

– John Peterson

From the title poem, Low Temples

low temples   reached by quiet decision
everywhere     around us     and yet
we do not enter low temples

low temples flow from us

Many of James' pieces had no title but were set-up in groups. I have tried to follow that here. So, if pieces have no titles that is his option, they are grouped according to the original manuscript.

This volume was put together in honor of James Downs by Joyce Downs and John Peterson.

The Author

James Downs passed away on October 10, 2020 after an illness. My love to Joyce and his family and I miss him terribly. A friend likes James is a great gift and I cherish the time we had together. Our press project would not have existed without James.

I met James shortly after starting work in Yosemite National Park. Meeting James was a fortuitous event. We began meeting at Degan's Deli for morning lattes and began conversations that continued for months and then years. We talked about myriad topics including philosophy, politics, music, literature, and poetry. His depth and ease of conversation was enlivening and eventually lead to beginning Poetic Matrix Press. James had been creating small handwritten poetry books (3 X 4 inches) of his poetry. We went on to do chapbooks and over 80 full length books, including his book Merge with the River.

Hope is a Bird

hope is a bird that floats in on its
wide flimsy stained glass wings

and settles on your softened shoulders
waiting    hope doesn't know that any

thing is impossible    it sits there
with a clear body of anticipation

and waits    it waits for you to fling
aside all caution    it waits for you to

create a palette of emotion    that
will drag you to your leaden feet

it waits for brittle wings inside you to    unfold
and beat    shake and stretch    bring forth dreams

hope sits on tinted shoulders    quiet
internal    focused    bird-contained

and waits for you to sing


digging into tilled earth
i pick out a bulb of indetermined
girth hold it in my hand    rub it
for all its worth    shine it like a penny
many plants hug this earth    in stances

of life-and-death perchance

pulling bulb by bulb up    i don't
have my syntax right    these plants
are pining for their soil    their water and
their light    gingerly    tenuously    i
put them back    bulb by bulb and

cover them with blankets of fresh earth

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