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Charles Flowers
Charles Flowers has spent 25 years in journalism, writing for national magazines, regional newspapers and working as an editor and business writer. These experiences have given him a vast view of the world, inspiring him to make global and regional issues a part of his work. His poetry incorporates a recognition of and implies a bond between current generations and their ancestors.

Cotanchobee

The people who came here
were not new to the wetlands
they came by water, down the continent
on Southern rivers, or across the bay
that would be called Florida, or from the island
that would be called Cuba, or farther

Down the continent came the Seminole.
runaways from the Creek nation, before
there was any other, names handed down like
promises, never to leave

Can you hear him in the breeze?
Sam Jones, Abiaka, Aripeka
all the same person, man of four souls
the last being the people

Innocent fisherman, Sam Jones named
from a song the soldiers knew, selling
fish to them. What was he buying?

Black eyes smouldering. Ears open.


Seninole Signs (at the Playground)

Rootless Cypress in the sand, where
the real cypress dips its toes in water
Turtle shell, round for climbing and a
toothy, smiling Alligaator
Does he know how the Turtle lost his
shell, or where and when these Clans
last spoke in native tongues?


Alligator Poem

Paddle on down
you alligators
from the reservoir
to Sulphur Springs

Stretch your little arms
and swish your savage tail
and sink like a submarine
when you see my black dog

Guess again, green monster
you won't be dining on Labrador today
or any other if I have my say, so keep on
with the current, roll with the tide

And find yourself a nest before morning
because there are bigger bullies than you
with sharper teeth in this black water

Drift on down the Hillsborough,
wild and scenic, broad and smooth
stories in every chop and eddy



Haikus are Very Short Poems

Birds peek out from the mangroves,
so silent they are almost unseen
silly fish -- that's the idea


Waves (for the Ceramic Artists)

Waves of stone, some with
shells inside, patchwork petals,
islands in the Stream, could be
Cuba, Hispaniola, isles of frijoles,
Isles of beans, isles of bones

Arrows where they came from,
where they went

Pirates at the portholes! One
missing an eye, Jolly Roger
mixed with a splash of cruiser

Yo-ho-ho and a skull and bones
walk the plank to the drunk tank
when you feel so broke up
you just wanna go home

Another sees the land as an
alligator might, a droopy nose
for the lake in St. Pete, misplaced
Lake Tarpon before the plates meshed

But still a causeway, linking the
peninsulas together like no sports
team has or could, trading cigars
for beach towels, microbrews for bikinis

Blocks of color, another kind of patchwork,
streets seen from above, with highways
pointing the ways out

Minarets and skyscrapers
rising to a gobble-de-gook
while lightning the color of egg yolk
crackles boldly above the little Taj
and three others keep their eyes on us

The Skyway has its own waves upon waves,
a more recent sorrow,

35 killed
in an unforecast storm, a Chinese crew
and a thousand excuses, but wonder

Did the old bridge
mind giving way to this golden suspender
only a dollar to cross


Still Life: Yachts Behind the Marriott

Run the gauntlet of speedboats:
Blade Runner, Sun Dancer, Never Say Never
The canvas afts tucked in like a sprinter
in sweatpants before the big race

So clean, so capable, so uneager to stir into motion,
the fiberglass yachts groan in their tethers


Book Titles at the Historical Center

Alligator Tales (not the kind with
The Fightin' Gators). Tin Can Tourists
(before they tragically went extinct
and were replaced by the Wiley
Winnebagos)

Tampa Bay's Golden Beaches, where
women in one-piece bathing suits
held spinning reels on the dock
as if to say, "Come on down!"

And damned if they didn't.

Walking the Walk (at the canoe ramp)

Seven steps to heaven on a concrete slab

See the anhinga, hunting now,
not drying his wings, hungry for the
minnows I see strafing the launch site

Waiting for a user, a bold explorer who can
fathom the depths of the parking, a plucky adventuring
soul who could start the journey of a lifetime
right here.

The anhinga flies in the sidewalk wake of the cruisers,
two young men on electric wheelie bikes glide by

In the shadows of this restored habitat, buttonwood
dappled with sunlight, fishes do swim, and school
and a yellow jacket starts to hummm

Watch out!

There is spartina grass here, like all along the marshy
Coast of Georgia, and succulents, date palms for decoration
and small trees to hold the land, and advancing mangroves
already form a driftwood cove; an orange-and- black butterfly
flies off too fast to identify -- dragonfly rests on green buds,
anoles dart below

A waterlogged 2-by-6 washes in like it's looking for a home
on somebody's front stoop

Things blow in, they do
So do people -- "We could have seen you coming," they say.
"We would've baked a cake."

The shoreline goes on toward Tampa,
Looking to get adopted,
like an orphan of the plant world,
a shipload of tires becoming a reef,
but better woven, with hiding places

Watch out!


The Meaning of the Maze at USF

Old college rowing logos snake
under and up to the bridge tender's
station on Kennedy: Yale, Rutgers,
Pennsylvania, Cornell '93, Spunky's Boys,
Massachusetts the longest with numbers
that look like "for a good time, call
Massachusetts."

Afternoon sun lights a stuck in the mud sign
with a pelican on top, clearance at center, 10, 12
feet, depends on the tide, like me.

Sitting under a Brazilian pepper tree, by
a maze I just conquered -- I will not say how,
Neither will the pelican. Hint: walk left

No, your other left.
And Fly!