Upgrade Me

The trees wilt

in the belching air,

the city effaces itself

with cheap wine and rust,

the rivers choke on trash,

the elderly vomit

and talk to themselves,

reciting dead phone numbers,

and even the sun can’t face it

and stays away for weeks.


The sky’s a black,

slippery tongue,

the children massacre

eels of thought

and grimace

with eyes like teeth,

and usually

I could bear it all,

let it roll off me,

like tarred rain,

like a dying dog.


But the better half of me

has up and gone

and I’m left with

the hunch-back,

half-drowned alley cat,

rejected by the

bakers at dawn.

And I’m expected

to hobble along

to the gleeful,


diabetic soundtrack

they’ve jammed on repeat,


with this crash-test body,

paralyzed at the heart,

hands clapping,

knees jangling,

backbone snapped and pinioned

in seven places,

smile hooked to the rafters

like all these marionettes.


Why don’t they see

my eyes rolling in their cage,

lunging against

the padded walls

of this sanatorium

for the terminally tame,

this wireless, solar-powered,

hyper-connected, hyperventilating

solution to modern living?


I’d like to request

another one,

packaged and sent by mail

with a brochure, a manual

and a ticket for an upgrade

with no strings attached.


Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

Personal Hygiene

What deft work fingers make

in such small circles,

twisting at the

cloud puffs of my mind,

pulling at globs of brain clot,

stuck deep where the

noises of the day

still scratch and tick

like a crackling music box.

My head, a vessel,

a rickety barnacled tug that

chugged through the upper-reaches

of over-grown shopping malls,

where women carried neon frowns;

children tugged at the

shackles of coin operated leviathans.

Becalmed in pungent business districts,

down punch-card streets

where men with typewriter mouths

spewed data-orgasms.

I hoved home through swampy suburbs,

filled with the howls of beige beasts

in alligator-stained polo shirts.

Along the way, caught

on so many snags,

mired in sludge and

disused junk-mail hedges,

my mind cluttered and

dragged almost to the bottom.

Now such surgeon fingers ply off the

world’s clinging clank of

buckled soda can epiphanies

until so much silence,

like a goblet of wine,

full and sweet, flows down,

cleanses the throat of my mind.