A selected list of previous publications in journals and anthologies appears after the poems.

 

Outlier                                                                      

 

A Tody’s back feathers are

caped in a green silk fit

for Jackie O, made by Valentino

to go with emeralds, but eats

earwigs, dragonflies, spiders

off leaves or seized in flight. 

 

Red-throated, the size of a

plum, its beak one prong

of a tuning fork. It, too, will go

extinct like Jackie O, like the

beetles, katydids it eats, rain

forest’s insect hum gone dim.

 

The dragon fish, more snake

than fish, sports overlapping

teeth, a cage of clear spikes like

icicles. Its chin tows a luminescent

lure. Its eyes look white but beam

red light before it strikes.

 

In the subterranean of the

ego: fissures, so a friend’s

barbed words net me & I

am caught in the sorrow

she has made of denial. A cat

spins to catch its tail on fire.

 

A fire ant’s signature is a circle,

red, blistered center bulbous as

a pencil eraser. Mapped, a banded

indigo in Ohio, sapphire, azure,

still lives, at thirteen years.  His

progeny track the stars to Mexico.

 

The Harvard Review 57 (2021): 154-155.


 

The Gamble               

                   (Like “Long Haul Covid,” Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS, is a complex

                                                                        disorder likely caused by a virus.)

In the sixth game of his match

against Spassky, Fischer made

his move, Queen’s Gambit.  Cold,

hyper-vigilant, this was years after,

age thirteen, he had sacrificed

his Queen, in a “Game of the Century.”

At an IQ of 180, frightened, he lived

inside his head; Eidetic Image, second

nature, playing steps ahead, his

imagined pawns, rooks, bishops,

all threats, slid in for the kill.

 

At fourteen, I tried to make

a Greek red-figured vase,

spun globs of flecked clay to heavy

paper-weights, but read about

red-figured, black-figured, incised

two-handled vessels.  Perseus,

Hercules, helmeted like pileated

woodpeckers, launched spears,

wielded shields.  The cloaked

Spartan boy, rather than flinch,

let a fox eat his innards.  Fischer’s

fox leapt and circled in his brain.

 

My queens are syringes of red

liquid, a concentrate of B12.

My rooks derivatives of pig’s

liver, brain, heart, in emu oil,

liquid from crushed aronia berry,

powdered French oak in capsules.

Many little pawns I swallow to sleep.

The king: my body.  An invisible

virus has an endgame.  A doe

slips downhill, ears, pointed

nose, hide gray as tree bark, she

side steps any stalker, becomes

invisible to me, not prey: grace.

 

American Journal of Poetry Vol 2 (summer 2018)

scroll down to 2nd poem

http://www.theamericanjournalofpoetry.com/v5-barr.html

 

 

 

 

Poems from Green Target, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize

Agricultural Fair

 

Four little pigs ran in an orbit, an oblong

of four tracks, each ringed with a colored

collar, toward a pile of neon Cheetos,

then disappeared into their home trailer.

The caller, a hefty farmer, picked me, said

"You've never been on a farm before in your

life," and he was right.  I wanted my piglet

to win, urged her--or him--in the racket.

Geese hustled, orange shoed, then goats.

In the Mother Moo barn--huge, aluminum--

twin calves, day old, collapsed in the hay;

we hoped their mother knew not to step

near their flicked-back ears, their sloe-eyed

wonder.  The family wore coats burnished

the color of composted clay.  Tiny chicks

hovered under the feathered skirts of a hen,

disappeared there, under their mother,

yellow and black, downy, washing forward

in little waves, toward a dish of dried corn.

Two giant swinging shovels rose up, turned

people inside their cages upside down, fell,

swooped past, dragging screams in a path.

My mother lay content, as if in hay; I put

my head on her stomach, told her to wait

for me to come back.  "Just put her in a diaper,"

said my sister, "and tell her not to get out

of bed."  I slept on the couch; she rang

a bell when she needed me to walk her

to the bathroom at night.  I held her waist,

while she scooted the walker ahead. 

 

The Gettysburg Review 27:3 (2014) 388.


***


Threat                       

                                                                       

Through crushed August grass

a child's gray shoelace tugs itself,

its tiny pebble of a head triangular,

a wedge, therefore venomous.

Laced through a sneaker's eyelets,

it nips a finger, a tiny prick.  One

worries in the mountains.  Goldenrod

seeds our heads with bites from some

insect.  Meanwhile upright red rod

flowers burn for hummingbirds.

Portable shield on his back, a turtle

labors, feels with splayed paws, shows

off his orange splotched arms, leopard

patterned, bright as marigold, as

oranges bowled all along the railroad,

where a supermarket truck, pulling

across, got its back half sheared off.

Cop cars beetled up and down the road.

A boy on vacation by a lake said, "Let's

go in," but my husband refused.  The

boy, and another who went after him,

drowned.  Each night of his childhood

my husband dreamed it, woke just

before dying.  One's death is the period

that ends the sentence.   In Cairo

on the sidewalk they link arms, like

paper dolls I cut as a kid.  All at once

a waterfall of bodies bows to Mecca.

 

The Gettysburg Review 27:3 (2014) 391.
***

Poems from Kaleidoscope, Iris Press

 

Blue Rose,  for Sheila Jordan's bebop in Provence

Someone's picked lettuce from sunlight,
brined mussels in vinegar and bruised thyme,
to work against the sweetness of smoked salmon,
snipped the heads and tails of four anchovies,
split grey and white, arranged on a plate.

They taste of a concentration of salt
breaking into the mouth. As if their bodies
are permeated by a sea where vessels of olives
leached their oil into the blue
or Tyre's purple, boiled from snails.


Sheila sings as if she has fed off feelings,
her insides transparent. Her voice a fluid.
Like a wound inside my mouth when
a marzipan grape sprayed with color
spurts its brandy.


The blue rings inside me. I am the hood
of a bell slammed by the clapper;
sound shakes, rips
colors and tones, so I see my split selves
come back to rest, cast, and whole.


Brilliant Corners 12: 2 (2008): 5

***


The Ecology of Atlas, for Sara


Head-dressed in orange down, the color of Georgia,
he wears two white mantles; his feelers splay,
two minnows' fishbones, delicate as lashes.

                                                                      He
holds his nine inch spread on four furred nubs
palmed to a leaf, his rear legs tucked under
its edge.

              Four white patches arrest us, the whole
embroidery complex as a Chinese robe, silked
in oranges, whites and greys.

                                               Even his segmented
carapace is eyed on its underside, no part of his
body is not marked.

                                Under a microscope
his whole cape is mailed with shining platelets,
a roman army's phalanx glinting their shields so sun
becomes a weapon.

                                Seeing him soaking through his colors
is to learn regard of a small god.


                                                *

                                                    Inside this domed
atrium, steaming with released humidity, in the eighty
degrees butterflies like, morphos glint silver, polished
blue; swallowtails flash emerald glitter.

                                                               Small postmen
deliver their reds.

                            On the undersides of seeded fern,
Paper Kites, a dozen black and white sails hung
upside-down, each in a luff, inflate.
                                    
                                                          Pale yellow
Sulphers make a circlet of flutter around and around
each other, drawing wreaths in the air that show
and disappear.

                       Like Tinkerbell's sparking wand
they trail pollen, attach themselves one frill to another,
thrift to butterfly bush to bee balm to sedum, soak
the cosmos.

                   So this Atlas, giant in his brown study,
holds on.

                Each Atlas, winged, beating, holds up invisible
circles that link us to each other, lands on us without fear. 

 

The Mississippi Review 37: 1 & 2 (2009): 126-7. (Honorable Mention, Mississippi Review Prize)
 

My poems have been previously published (selected list) in: Alaska Quarterly Review, American Book Review, American Journal of Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, Arts & Letters, Asheville Poetry Review, The Atlanta Review, Barrow Street Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Boulevard, boundary 2, Brilliant Corners, Broad River Review, Cleaver Magazine, Connotation Press,  Crab Orchard Review, Crazyhorse, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Denver Quarterly, Gargoyle, The Gettysburg Review, Hanging Loose, The Harvard Review, Hotel Amerika, Kakalak, Kestrel, Louisiana Literature, The Mississippi Review, Mudfish, New Orleans Review, New South, Notre Dame Review, North American Review, The Painted Bride Quarterly, The Paris Review, Peacock Journal, Persimmon Tree, Ploughshares, PoemMemoirStory, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Poetry South, Reed Magazine, The Seattle Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Story South, Tar River Poetry, Texas Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, West Branch, Witness, What Rough Beast, Zone 3, and in anthologies.