In Life on the Mountain, Dean Towe Jr. writes poetry of religious conviction grounded in faith, love and service. An ordained Baptist minister, Towe has been a Chaplain of Prisoners for a county jail in Missouri, worked with his wife to promote awareness of domestic violence issues, and been involved in a “motorcycle ministry.”
As Towe writes, however, finding his Christian calling did not come easily. In the poem, “Letting Go, Letting God,” Towe describes the journey by which he first fell away from the church into a life of “Motorcycles, sex, alcohol, and drugs,” a life that brought him to complete despair: “’I went to the woods, I went to decide, / I knew the only way for me was suicide.” Here, he was granted a vision of Jesus, who tells him: “Come stand by me, from your burden be freed.”
Towe’s struggle for faith is ongoing, evident in lines such as, “We will see trials, trouble, and tears”; and, “This world is full of crooked paths. / And Satan’s waiting with his maps.”
Unfortunately, Towe’s language is sometimes preachy, such as in “God is Big Enough,” where he writes, “So the next time God asks something of you / Think of how much for you did Jesus do?” The book is also marred by awkward and confusing lines, especially when Towe mangles syntax and sense in order to maintain a rhyme. In “My Wife on Mother’s Day,” Towe writes, “You love us, for us you cook and you clean / and not very often is your disposition mean.” In “The Invitation,” we find, “A church pew is no good place to hide. / To heaven a church pew you won’t be able to ride.”
Life on the Mountain works well enough as a personal testament of faith and belief, but as poetry, it needs a fair amount of polishing and pruning to engage a wider audience.