Confronting the shadow within

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o Prozac

I'm very nearly free of
you     Completely

Surgeon's hue & Snowy Owl's
precision      All
that's left's
to choose my insurrection

Turn, a fearsome lyrist —
Eurydicean smithereens

Or bare my self, a god

— your body
burns like



... 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
— Hopcke

I don't love you anymore,
I don't think I ever did
— Eurythmics

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.


Mary's song
after Sexton; and Plath

O my God, such a pain
in the arse!
Thirty years torturing
vacuous youth:

black rah-rah
skirts, watered-
down tunes.

Clubbing each night, I'd mimic Grace
Jones, heart
my ribcage, its sinew.

Like, hey,
I was no more an artist
than Yorkshire's
hideous sooth

Cross my palm
with silver crowns she'd warble.
Bless you

wretched children I'd betray.
What a laugh,
the glory,
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.
__________________________Where's my
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 ...
If you

were a man you could nevernever suffer
this hideous black leather patch.'


Holy Saturday

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 BarnesStuart 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.


Recent articles by Stuart Barnes.

Boys will be girls will be boys

Topic tags: new australian poems, Stuart Barnes, Madonna



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Existing comments

I keep re-reading these poems - maybe that means I'm confronted by them! "Nigredo" made me think of these words Nietzsche once wrote: 'I did that', says my memory. 'I could not have done that' says my pride, and remains inexorable - Eventually - the memory yields.' A personal reaction only.
Pam | 22 August 2012

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