Contemporary Poems and Stories

When Claire Clemons Cowan asked me to write the foreword to this book, I nearly begged off. Generally, publishers are more down-to-earth businessmen than floatees in the rarified atmosphere of such literary currents as are presented here. But after reading Mrs. Cowan's manuscript I readily accepted the charge.
    Publishers of poetry see a lot of versifying, of all stripes. Rarely, though, does a body of work draw you in and hold you so tightly as does the subtle content of this book. The author has got you, and she intends to keep you. Fortitude! Break away! . . . But you'll be back.
    Claire's poetry, some right in front of your face and some a bit distant, will make you chuckle, sigh, stare at the page with squinted eyes, and experience a host of other reactions. Well done.
    You'll note that the story Shock, on page 77, eerily echos present-day Syria, though written some years ago.
    This author has a gift of seeing and another of making the reader see. I am sure you will enjoy reading these pieces as much as I did.
---Stephen R. Hunter, Publisher

Excerpt . . .

“Of course, you look ridiculous in tams
and shadra garb,” said Abdul, watching the woman's
flopping feet across the courtyard, “Abraham's Tomb
is sheltered in that corner, there,” said the guide,
“Reverent Bible lore and laws of worth
demand the mosque be quiet, save the pad of shoes,
oversized robes upon the tourists, clad in silk, the rustle
mild with rented gowns of teachers.”
“Are taboos
suspended here of Christians, or is quite
The opposite the truth?” The silence, “And are we asked
to look like puss and boots, like clowns in black?”
“Sh, I am here to protect you. Shush.”
“Stretch whom on rack?”
“And buy you with Muslim laws grown slack!”
The woman brawled at that. “Don't threaten me. I lack
“Different book,” the man said, puck in hand.
“Some early draft?”
“Shush, now, my daft.”
The man took his wife's hand and smiled.

by Claire Clemons Cowan