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.

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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