Night Poem XV

I turn my back and laugh
at the corpse of the day
with a knife in his back,
a smile on his face.
Around him,

the eunuchs of my memory
slumped and lifeless;
they tried to pin the deed on me.
I have no time for these stragglers,

their parrot-like recriminations
that keep me here
in the sun’s dead temples.
There are thunderstorms,

horizon devouring winds,
that will forgive me this violence;
they ready me for a pure and
uncompromising shore.

It was necessary to become
the self’s inexorable assassin,
to put these enemies of my purpose to rest.
On the other side,

I will be essential dust
in no man’s night.

Night Poem VII

The night is clarity.
The clinical night arrives with a bag of instruments,
a jar of dissected silences,
and examines me on a table cold with remorse.

Out comes fear, out comes sorrow,
the wounded tongue,
the toe black with regret.
The surgeon night holds up my entrails

to the mirror of a razor fine moon,
and I see all the defeats of my mouth,
the dark failings of my sun.

But I don’t look away.
There is healing in this,
the quartering of the agonies I keep,
these open fissures where love struggles,

where the hours hew new scars
that will form my life.

The Tiger

I was magnificent,
the perfected mane
of a dark and menacing wind,
a fierce love that
stalked in the tall blades.
Nothing was more perfect
than my hunt,
the prey that fell to me,
like devoured kingdoms.
And though I killed,
I bore no grudges,
because in me
the recurring seasons of blood,
in me all striving remembered itself,
and life attained its
burning form.


These silences you keep now
grow in my mouth.

I cannot speak the words
that would sleep with you each night.

These fields of toppled storm that you vacated
grow wild on my tongue.

Nothing grows there,
it spreads beyond everything,

and it claims all the temperate cats,
and it knocks in all the red doors,

and every part of you I stole
finds its freedom.

Sands of dusk, the shipwrecked sun,
dunes collect behind my eyes,

giant birds circle with my voice,
lizards burrow with my memory of ruins.

I cannot see you out there alone,
as light as an empty dress embracing the wind.

Violent sandstorms fill the throat of my soul,
a verdant silence grows in my mouth.

There are moments

There are moments

when I open my mouth

to breath

and instead I inhale

the full catastrophe

of this world;

the shipwrecks,

the starvelings,

the adulterers.

Then I weep bitterly

from my fingertips,

strip bark from the young trees,

and listen to the

rings creaking

inside their wounds,


oh so satisfied

with the cruelty of men.

And I make love

on my knees

with my sorrow.

I roar from the cocoon,

the mouthless moth

in the throat of my heart

and I’m banished

even by my own anger.

I am silent.

I want to make

this mismatched world sing,

to force the elderly

to dance with the young,

the victim with

the executioner,

east with west,

the tree with

the wood cutter,

the cat with the dog.

I shout from the

stain of my lung,

love, love, love!

You fools.

I pacify on my

bloodied knees.

I pacify

The dead snail

rattling in his shell.


Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014

Yashii Park

In Yashii park

down by the sea,

there’s smooth jazz

sliding out of a loud speaker

and there are big walls

for tame swimmers.

And out beyond,

the sea,

in her impossible softness,

invites the boats

over the edge.

In Yashii park

there’s summertime

on the radio,

and people slow and stupid

under the April sun,

and families

dispensing themselves

onto the beach

like coloured pebbles

set out to dry.

And this all depends on

the sea, and the way

she calmly unfolds herself today

and lets the people

touch her and

accepts the braver ones

who wade into her

still frigid shallows.

And the palm trees lean in

and tell me things,

like how

she is the last to forgive.

Like how once

she’d rung their necks

and flung some of them

over the rooftops.

And her hurt had

raged and burst

the great walls

meant as her straight-jacket.

But today she’s

laid out on her back

and the things that once

probed at her explosive depths

now seem far off.

And the voluptuousness

in her rises and

embraces these fragile ones

who come tentatively

down to her shore.


Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014