The Suitor


We fly through these streets
as though the snow bid us on
deeper into its white and pure

And now and then it touches you,
and you look away.
Do you sense the ruthlessness
of my coarse blood?

On your skin like porcelain,
on which the snow leaves no imprint,
your family has placed
a veneer of dazzling centuries,

and with boreal opulence,
your silence communicates
the burden of their dreams,
which were never yours.

You press yourself tighter to me
so as not to see where it has
finally cracked,
and in your sudden lips
I taste the young and violent
spring blossoms.

Do you now see what passes
at the open window of our swift rickshaw?
A whirling city already modern
and confident in its horrors.

And only now and then the
faint perfume of that other
lost world, from which you came.

I will be the end of your illustrious line.
I relish this,
the way, without even knowing it,
you sink into my arms like a beautiful ruin,
the way I have attained this sentence
over your young life.

You are not me

You are not me, but you were.
Now, your strides find the dark hour of confidence
and the secret that men fear.

Your body discovers a sexual music
and dances alone with itself
in the abandoned salt
and the wreckage of love.

And I have lost the bow to the cello
I once hid in the silent arch of your waist.

Giant and impossible,
you are beyond my small measure of need.
Your loosened hunger
burns the perimeters of my sadness,
because you are not me.

Free of me, you have become
a hurt aimed at my night.
You flirt with other men,
I burn in the pit of my poetry.

What I’m Losing

What have I gained
from my penchant for song?
From this window over Kelburn
I watch the impatient wind
shove unwelcome clouds

out the harbour’s door,
out to the shivering south.

And what is meant to remain behind
in this shorn place,
or on a page?
The things I write down no longer want
anything to do with me,

the years already pushing me
out beyond my words.
I couldn’t hold onto
a single one,
my poetry could not keep her.

And although I tried
to commit her voice to paper,
she speaks now with others,
through the others.

My love could not write
her vagrant body
onto this fleeing landscape.

The Colonist

Finally out of the tangle,
the stubborn undergrowth,
the dripping sky
that descended like subterfuge,
his gentle field,
laid out like a picnic,

The forest still
reared its cold, damp mane
at his approach,
but there was something now
he had as reply.
And from the larder,
the woman,

who was no longer
young and gentle,
ferried the raw materials
he tore with calloused thumbs
from the earth
into jars, into cupboards,

sweetening, smoothing,
caramelizing the savage man
that the land was
daily tearing from him,
as if he were his fraying shirt.

She too was part of
his quarrel with the bush.
With her he’d teach it
to part its hair,
to accept the fields,
to accept the basin and the soap,
and above all the harvest.

And the forest reconciled herself
with this man,
for their treaty was neither
wholly hers or the invader’s.

And they were,
in their own ways,
immovable forces, bearing down,
hewing the other
into transformation.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

The Sun Returned With Her

The night she broke her bridle

and fled

possessed by that

giant black moth of despair

that sometimes comes to her,

I went out into the streets

in pursuit

until my soul was hoarse.

The night she broke her bridle

I thought I’d never

get her back,

that all my efforts

to make a garden of her love

were lost.

And all I found

were the traces of

her phantom sadness,

the dark blots

of hemorrhaged shadows

that she became that night.

The night she broke her bridle

the death of the universe

raged in her,

the closing fist

of the final fear,

the last flailings

of the drowning sun.

And when she returned

in the morning,

the sky was perfectly cloudless,

and the sun, impossibly,

returned with her.

And her soul was so calm

as it hummed in the

warm void of the day.

And I saw that

I’d have to start my garden

all over again.


 Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

Things are breaking

Things are breaking apart over us.

Things are breaking in my shoes.

The traffic lights

and the office men

and your words at breakfast

break apart in the

ridges and crags of my day.

Its the sky that’s bursting from me,

angry, full of coagulated wind

and ready to shake things up.

For the longest time

I’d shuttered it away

behind dank curtains

where it raged and

clapped at the cataracts

of my spleen,

at the audacity of it’s host.

And now the baying clouds

storm from me and send out

locust swarms of love

to feast upon

the works, the fields,

the nights that I’ve tilled

into a life.

And the sky from out of my mouth

dredges up the desolate road

along which

I must make my new way,

A beggar after my own heart.


Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014