Even something as mundane as this

you turn into beauty

overflowing into pain.

How can I contend with this moment

you fling at me,

like a burning coal,

like a two thousand pound bull

of utterly raging joy,

like a challenge?

I’m no matador,

I’m no handler or hot things.

What I contain,

nothing more, nothing less,

is the balance of my usual

shaggy and tattered days.

Sunrises, mail,

daytime TV, checkout queues,

all these I can handle

with the prowess of a lion tamer.

But you, walking under

this arbor of our old garden path,

while the late afternoon light

rushes into your wake,

like sea spray, like citrus,

you are, this afternoon,

nature herself out for a stroll,

stretching her infinite limbs.

And you know somewhere, far off,

she’s smeared her horrors across the sky.

Ah, what do I know,

a sensible man, a clumsy dancer,

a shoveller of familiar days,

of how you became breath,

afternoon and the never understood?

The trees, the path,

its weeds, its yellow incendiary flowers,

the late noon sunshine, they know,

and flock close around you

like children at play,

pull at your dress, accompany you,


to the sweet places you go

bestowing life.

What need of me here,

this already conquered one?

But I’ll follow anyway,

hoping to catch a ride

on your slipstream’s burning wave.


Copyright Ricky Barrow, 2014

Almost Desire

There are so many feminine types,

so many blond and red-eyed,

black, blue, monstrous busts,

or soft knees of forgiveness,

so many almost attained faces

to toss around on the

tongue of your animal brain,

to chew on and spit into cups.

This one’s round face,

lips pursed, sucking dry sex;

this one’s face coiled up

and kept in a pocket

where no hands fondle it;

this one’s sharp face

the men all run from wounded,

and she slices open buses

like a can-opener;

this one’s sweet face,

oceans of milk,

and you’d die on her lips

before you drowned in her breast.

You could wade through this crowd

of Madonnas and sucker-fish,

seeking out the almost attained,

perfect face your eyelids

translate for you in their lurid, sad moments.

And you might find her

and she’ll be like

an air-conditioned room,

neither hot nor cold,

just dry,

or she’ll be like

a still wrapped sofa,

you paid too much for and

now fear to use,

and lighting flames near her

will be dangerous.

Or you could return

to your wounded, decaying woman,

who bruises under your

blunt fingers

and curls and browns at the edges

after every bout of love,

like a fallen hydrangea

in the sauna of the humid summer.

You could stay and watch

the flesh burgeon out

and finally fall away

until she’s just her

last essential apple core

which you carry,

a precious seed, in your palm,

this last thing she can give you,

and she does,

for that is love.


Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014