Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Poetry by Stuart Barnes


1995: Mr. Smith – middle-
aged, eccentric, lived at home with Hamlet’s
evil queen – unleashed a beast: recall, if
not all, as many as possible of
the Technicolors that gleamed at the front
of the fluorescent laboratory
like kaleidoscopic, hypnagogic
celluloid scenes of that city in Oz.
I forget how many there were then (one
hundred and eighteen and counting, now); all
I remember is wishing for the Scare-
crow’s brain, the Tin Man’s heart, the Cowardly
Lion’s courage, and a pair of ruby
slippers to whisk me far away from harm.

Nowadays, more splintered than ever, I
stand each morning like a caryatid
shouldering her colossal portico
all alone over the grim electric
Omega oven’s stovetop, eyes sponging
its greasy, incarnadine coils (all four),
irresistible dials in between the
first and thumb of each hand turning on, off,
on … I can’t help myself: five years ago
zeppelins dropped their terrible cargo,
high school voices, in my mind (such echoes,
still!), and everything changed for good. Jesus,
one day I’ll be freed from the claws of this
disease, from the hells of my elements?

- Stuart Barnes 2010


the waiting room’s

fluorescent, like Hell

a roily-faced girl’s
eyes are crazed as a feral cat’s;
and then there’s the stench of baby

crap     invalids
spin between doctors: kaleidoscopic
tops between children

a detached transaction:
my GP’s rote-learned questions,
my ‘yes’ ‘no’ answers

the dreaded tests are specified in puzzling

Latin on greying paper

at reception I
take a tarnished number:
pathology roll call

the nurse

on his
latex gloves, begins to
hum a golden
oldie like a vampire

– blackout

- Stuart Barnes 2010


Tips of toes stroking his pink magnolia’s flowers, found
bound in final prayer. Sick at heart,
I never knew him well,
but well enough to fathom he was

of the same tough stuff
as German Jews
or Harvey Milk,

the screws of Alcatraz. Red
knot in my deep, black throat,
sheet’s white ligature
puncturing his.

Why, why, why?

- Stuart Barnes 2010