« Back to posts

Poems of June and July 2019

- by Linn Barnes

Jutland Again
for Seamus Heaney
-Linn Barnes

After looking for 
signs of love among 
the noble ancients,
you know, a carved femur,
a chiseled tattooed skull,
something more than
the hideous grins of 
the strangled
in the death 
pits of Jutland,
where they screamed
for a quick moment
as they sank into the bog
to the bottom of 
the dire heap,
where the day they 
trespassed now is 
flayed open to the bone, 
where with eyes shuttered tight
She will see no more,
only the rudeness of eternity,
and the false mockery of light.

Politics Aside
-Linn Barnes 

High summer, after the solstice, has a way of 
confusing you, bringing you down, changing your gait,
muffling the debris you raise as you slither down the line.

I mean, you thought you had some spring in your step,
until you tripped before noon, when the rains began to fall, 
hard on your path, and the the storm crashed your gate,

Into the dark of the dead zone, between two and five,
when the hungry cannibals of the ruined day run amok
slaughtering all left floating in the sad sea of sucking mud.

Smoke and Flame
-Linn Barnes

When, long ago she took a look back at me
somewhere in a miserable dark corner,
bent over a guitar, sweat rolling down,
my face distorted in the heat and the night,

I floated for a confused moment in the thick air,
no longer near nor there, and drifted for a while
in her dark beauty and grace until the vision
collapsed and she vanished into the smoke.

I blinked twice, then twice again, until a heavy fog
rolled in and slammed closed the path she’d burned,
leaving me shoreless, cast out into that shinning night,
lights flashing hopelessly for what could never be rescued,

For a glimpse into that light, of what had vanished into the air,
on that lonely and forlorn night somewhere so very long ago, 
when in an instant I knew that what had been revealed
would color the rest of my days with shadows and praise.

A Music Lesson
-Linn Barnes 

Pummel the phrase 
five thousand times,
then five thousand more,
work the scale a gram at a time
until you feel ground water
flowing beneath your hands,
and deep heat coursing well
into the will of it all.

The Deep Dark
-Linn Barnes

Sometimes late, watching the sky,
In the deep dark, we hear motion 
not too far into the trees, 
while we sit and listen,
a bit out of sorts,
as we bring to bear
the familiars, always there
for when things ring wrong,
be it any time, but mostly
in the depth of night,
when the unpredictable may deal
you a marginal hand and you’ve 
no good hold card 
but your solid will
and calm resolve,
in the deep dark,
where nothing can 
really be known. 

Then, finally, with a long breath, 
we crease a shallow smile,
whistle a quick light tune
into the dark unknown where 
more than you can imagine
swarms and stalks 
most everything 
including you.

Guitar In The Heat 
-Linn Barnes

Alone, this afternoon, 
in the growing shade,
I took a powerful amplifier, 
to the deck in the woods, 
the sun behind me in the west, 
the heat, pulsing, but moderate, 
a soft incidental breeze rising,
and plugged in the flamenco guitar, 
and, after a moment or so of coy anticipation, 
struck the instrument, hard, rattling the woods and, 
I feel certain, engendering a tidal surge in the river,
where there can be none, but the shimmering water 
seemed to laugh, shout back and, finally, cheer 
one deafening rasquiado after another, 
decorated with multiple improvised scales 
slamming through the Spanish modalities, 
until finally, with a deep breath, melting
into twelve bars of Mississippi delta blues 
in the fading heat, until, as the sun began to set 
beneath the western ridge, I pulled the plug 
on a perfect moment deep in the woods,
still ringing, shuddering with the 
last gasp of the miracle of music.

-Linn Barnes

I am tired of sadness in our land
so weepingly bent by the toxic rifts 
carving into our sacred but scarred souls,
so fed up with the endless bullshit
we are told to hold close
and suffer endlessly 
in the name of something
muttered about a greater good, 
maybe, but finally collapsing
to loose change jangling
before empty dead eyes.

The Halberd
-Linn Barnes

When the candy crumbles 
along the road to sorrow,
and the pretty faces flash
sad grainless shallow grins
before the hills of weeping 
children savaged and brought
to the dens of vicious men
lying among the leftovers 
of not a goddamned thing
worth even a moment of
gloomy consideration,
it is then that we take up
the halberd and draw a deep breath 
before bringing it crashing 
down on the empty skulls,
drooling before the scales
of justice which have finally found 
and fledged a full set of righteous wings.

Fading Nightmare
-Linn Barnes 

I’ve got it, took a while, but here it is:
We think we are witnessing reality, 
bizarre entities cavorting on the stage,
before vanishing only to re-appear,
a driver in one hand and a speech 
in the other, dancing and screaming, 
grabbing and goosing one another,
until the probabilities explode, 
and the whole exercise collapses,
bringing down what no one thought 
possible until it lay sprawling
and shattered on the kitchen floor,
components flying away from each other
at warp speed, where the mustard
explodes into the light and the leftovers
dance a rubric rhumba as the dawn
begins to shine, shutting the fading 
nightmare down, which soon crumbles to
a swarm of what may have been
to a cloud of past and future dust.

Forlorn Symmetries

-Linn Barnes

A shadow has drifted into view,
where the eagle and the falcon
once flew in a deeply chilled wind,
now blowing wet and too warm,
fogging the walls and the rims,
diving and rising before 
the tempest begins, 
sounding ill-fated notes, 
out of place, in an unknown major key,
yielding to sad rumors of a minor mode,
an aeolian grumble thrown from crumbling clay,
bringing no respite or light, 
no harmonic redemption, 
only crippled cadences,
wandering in and out of 
an open pallet of myth and illusion, 
blurring the forlorn symmetries
of antique time that will not cease.

'There is simply nothing quite like a glorious tart
to bring life to bear upon the most hopeless heart,
but not this tart, oh no, this one stays within the fold,
with camembert and glorious calvados to feast the day'...
-Linn Barnes

Looking For Some Payback
-Linn Barnes

It is July two, two days until the fourth,
two days until tanks will roll in Washington,
and the weeping and crying of lost children 
starving and living in filth, in heat, will be drowned
out by the roar of machinery and stamping boots,
the roar of explosives, planes overhead, after dark,
after we are fêted to the political lies,
hyperbole and nonsense of the least 
patriotic among us, a man who shames
all of us at home and abroad,
bragging of deals, where none are made,
cavorting with middle eastern potentates,
who eat their own and murder and dismember ours,
falling prey to a ruthless asian dictator who tricks him, 
us, into moronic nuclear appeasement,
joking blithely with a sad russian murderer,
who successfully ensured his elevation
to the highest office in the land,
which should have gone to another,
a brave soul who now keeps Her peace,
and, like the rest of us, is now 
looking for some payback.

A Moment Before Seventy-six
-Linn Barnes 

The door is closing on 75, three quarters of a century,
the remaining yaw of 25 years to the century
displays itself in block print and fading colors 
before my clear, at the moment, but no doubt 
soon to be fading eyes, dulling tastes,
confused mind, vanishing glamour,
most of which has already fled, and,
most of all, bewilderment at the notion
of it all, as it picks up to even greater speed,
rocketing forward to the sure 
destiny looming at the dawn of each
and every noble and perfect day.

And, then I begin to play, and 
the limits melt as I engage eternity.

-Linn Barnes

Full alert,
do you copy?
The proof is boiling over,
the stew is overdone,
drop your satchel,
grab your spear,
meet me at the shield wall
for buttercups and beer.

The savages are at the gate,
where dark blood swarms the air,
where blinking back tears
has become the order of the day,
where high crimes and scandal
are the rule of the day,
where the rulers are reveling 
in the slick sick lust of 
the murderous fray,
where the clarion call 
to war rings out as the 
slim gamble for peace
is being stomped, crunched
and split upon the altar
of failed implorations and lies 
where the assembly
of the macabre machine
clangs, bangs and rattles 
in the solemn darkness 
of the melancholy night.

-Linn Barnes

When Daphne taught us the tides
we came and we went, water all around,
the shore slipping beneath our souls,
as we righted the morning and the day,
with barely a thought of tomorrow,
until the meta-fabric of a new dawn spread
a gravelly false torc across the collective
throat, bringing to a collapse what
had shuddered into being, one time 
when we were young and strong,
a pure harmonious truth
that seemed to have no end.
And this is why we listen to Dylan.

Beach time
-Linn Barnes

The sea is calm
Birds are flying
People are walking
North and south
The wind is cool
Steady with gusts
Up to...
Don’t need
A weatherman to
Know which way
The wind is...

I’m thinking about flamenco
Chills and thrills on the guitar
My new cyprus and spruce
Flamenco guitar a wonder of
Light woods and clear air
Reminds me of a perfect day
On a lonely beach when colors
Are shouting in every key
Doubling falling into one another
While I buckle up put on the picks 
And bring more than light
To what’s left of this world

On The Strand
-Linn Barnes

By the raw windy strand,
I stand disheveled and 
Staggered to the bone,
With an ugly, heated wind
Burning my flesh, driving
Home the sure knowledge
That this sad day is but
A random toss upon
A shrinking bit of sand,
Whirling out of control,
Blowing up into a grim wind,
Hellbent for some far horizon, 
Finally vanishing, passing into 
Something like hope for tomorrow.
But the sky has yet to clear.

-Linn Barnes 

When you walk the beach,
most of the shells are broken,
shattered by the waves,
ground to near dust by the sand,
devoid of any organic rewards 
for the crabs or the birds
in their never ending search
for anything that may be, or, 
for a brief moment was, a 
spell ago, in the torrent of waves,
an organic possibility, suitable 
for slaughter and consumption.

When you walk the beach,
for the most part, you stave off 
the notion that you are walking
among the dead and dying,
as the living struggle to
devour what is left of the rest,
in an impossible tableau,
suggesting the hopes,
prayers and fears of the lost
rains down and drops you 
to your knees where the soaking 
sand, which time can never forget,
crushes you to tears and lamentations
of the horror born by those who
suffered, sacrificed and died 
to pave your way into the world.

-Linn Barnes

Willing to let the British monarchy be what it is,
I guess, a path to antiquity, a way from then to when,
just plain old one of those wonderful, sort of, things
which serve the present, kind of, as well as the past.

But is this really the case? Are we, British or otherwise,
being served by those who stand and wait,
while they welcome, and I can’t imagine why, 
some of the worst examples of the species to the realm?

The depressing vision of Queen Elizabeth II
welcoming Trump to Buckingham, guns and all,
was enough to turn any sane person
into a bloodthirsty bolshevik in a sad wink of the eye.


-Linn Barnes

Could a blessing actually be invoked,

I say blessèd be the slaves to reason,

the untiring mostly ridiculed and reviled

cadres of dreamers and scholars  

who somehow imagine they 

can have an effect upon

the shameless devastation 

wrought upon our amazing diverse 

pluralistic and unique society 

by frauds, liars, schemers and traitors.

-Linn Barnes 

One night when things 
were not so good,
I dreamed a sad moment 
when they were worse,
which shotgunned me to 
the surface of the sea,
breaching the shore bound waves,
slamming me into the sandy surf, 
where I lay stunned and breathless
until I gagged my way to the surface
only to be struck again, dragged down
and tided out to sea, this time for good.

Or, so it may have appeared to the 
casual passerby, sucking a soda,
choking on burgers and fries,
lighting up another lucky,
but it was not to be so,
since the gates were shut 
for this callous unbeliever.

But I crawled my way 
out of the ripping crush
barely in the nick of time
to wallow in the wash
until I was, dead fish-like,
half buried on the shore,
food for the crabs and birds,
crawling, screeching for a taste
of the waste so fortuitously 
shot up, filleted and presented,
on a bed of seaweed and baby clams.