I'm very nearly free of
Surgeon's hue & Snowy Owl's
to choose my insurrection
Turn, a fearsome lyrist —
Or bare my self, a god
— your body
... various terms [...] have found their way
into many a description of the individuation
process: nigredo, for the dark night of the soul,
when an individual confronts the shadow within
I don't love you anymore,
I don't think I ever did
Dark shadow, I don't love you
anymore (you're deadly, the
sea of Ezekiel; the
flame forever roiling the
bush; the soil, thorny, hardened;
the wind of the beginning),
I don't think I ever did.
after Sexton; and Plath
O my God, such a pain
in the arse!
Thirty years torturing
Clubbing each night, I'd mimic Grace
my ribcage, its sinew.
I was no more an artist
Cross my palm
with silver crowns she'd warble.
wretched children I'd betray.
What a laugh,
the assumption. The scoop
lays in Arcadia ...
My only hope, my lasting
act: I bore
a blond with baby blues.
I wanted to be famous,
I wanted to be a big star.
I went to New York
and my dream came true.
N. B. eighth verse from Madonna Live — The Virgin Tour, Warner Music Video, 1985
Tiger Lily knifes Captain Hook
'Pirate he ironed, booze
strewing its darkness, pirate ...
arrr! as I strode the Hotel's unctuous
deck for the first time since the accident.
wooden leg then, huh; my black and white
striped corset; my shoulder-clawing
macaw; have I neglected Halloween?
Later, polystyrene at my table,
he bobbed to the gobbled clock's
tick-tock. If you was a man Ida
never, never said nuthin ...
were a man you could nevernever suffer
this hideous black leather patch.'
From a pine's still tip this black
disconsolate god unlooses quavers.
Where's the magpie, wattlebird
and mynah? Milky, honeyed caffeine scalds my palate.
Two paddy wagons, two illumined hearses
fill the driveway: on one's tray
slumps an addict, handcuffed, faceless.
Spilling up from concrete sheets: nothing like compassion;
just the blindness of disciples, bald and shirred.
Stuart Barnes' poetry has been published in Qarrtsiluni, Mascara Literary Review, Overland, The Warwick Review, The Weekend Australian Review and VLAK: Contemporary Poetics & the Arts. His first accepted short story, 'Mother and Son', about his coming out, can be read at Verity La. He lives in Melbourne.