Black Currant

I wouldn’t say I am at a loss,
for speech, for words, for flowers.

It’s just that, in the mouth
there is something,
dark, growing, blooming,

I call it death,
but really it is the birth
of an exquisite black currant.

Where am I going?
I’m going to the middle,
the middle,
to the heart of the black currant.
At each bite, through the skin,

itself a galaxy, a life, a cold and deserted song,
I’m wading into the flesh,
blue, female.

It is a breast, a fullness between my teeth.
I know what I will find there
at the centre.

It is not a final nipple, not
completion, lust, perfection, fleeing guitar.
At each bite, the currant diminishes,

at each bite, the lungs full,
so gorged with the juice of fear and sleep.

Animals sleep in huddles of sand.
My palm is a vast plain in the night.

A single tree shelters the
black currant,
the current of my death in the desert.

A wind like a woman strips the dripping canyons.
What is it I find at the centre of my currant?

All fruit falls in the mouth of death,
my voice blooms in the mouth of death,

an ejaculation of stars,
smeared over the parallel skin of her waist.

First Star

First star,
open like an unreachable bud
in the still blue skin of the
Pale, silent, saying nothing,
yet somewhere once
a fierce energy,
a nebula of music,
which through the
immeasurable time
that it took islands, diamonds,
arthropods, tetrapods,
oceans to rise up and die,
through all this,
you reach us only now.
Still, you reveal nothing to us,
while we chew ourselves
into mouthfuls of
hate and love and fragrance.
Now and then, some of us flare up,
some, just now, petering out,
for we too
revolve around our own
dying sun.
You, slow burning, linger long
until red death comes.
Do you envy us,
our short and brittle fuse,
the heat of our precocious days,
our exquisite elaboration
on a theme of life,
our insatiate coming and going,
while you only remain?

Strange Things Happen in Island Bay

A horse bolted through the city the other morning
and was hit by a car.
He trailed the cold tail of the night
and ran towards Island Bay and the thin slant of dawn,
like an eye slowly opening.
A black horse, like a shadow fleeing its tethers,
shot past the stunned joggers on Adelaide road,
seeking the green tongue of the hill,
or the unshod sea, or the patience of seasons.
But he panicked at the traffic lights
and bled out, alone with his language,
speaking to no one.
And the people who passed him on their morning commute
were wide eyed, as if a fairy tale had invaded
the grey dawn of their neat, solid little city.
Sometimes we collide with the incomprehensible,
confusion, panic, sharp winter arousal of senseless death.
Anyway, he died with a blanket on his head
under the traffic light still changing,
like nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.
And nothing had happened, and everything.


There you are,

a small face on the pillow,

my hand on your neck

over the swelling,

while your eyes crumple

and whimper,

and I say how

sometimes there’s a

lump under the skin before we get sick.

But you don’t speak

and your cheeks burn,

fighting off the invaders

of bodies and dreams.

Sometimes the miracle

of your being

intoxicates me

and I swoon in your mysteries

oblivious to passing years.

But in moments like this,

when you leave me alone

with your fevered soul,

I see with the clarity

of an old, debauched king,

bodies fail us,

even the young succumb

to their fevers.

I love you and cling

to your palms that still pulse

with delirious life,

but every night,

when we lie down recklessly

like this,

love flees with our sleep,

like dark leaves

shedding over

the wound of the world.

Copyright 2014 Ricky Barrow