Stuart Barnes’s poems and creative nonfiction have appeared in The Warwick Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Southerly Journal, Overland, Etchings, Cordite Poetry Review, The Weekend Australian Review and Mascara Literary Review, amongst others, are forthcoming in Going Down Swinging and Verity La. His writing has been anthologised, exhibited, and shortlisted for major prizes including The Newcastle Poetry Prize. Poetry Editor of Tincture Journal and PASH Capsule, he lives in Yeppoon, Queensland, where he is working on Blackouts & other poems, a manuscript inspired by and dedicated to Gwen Harwood, a childhood ally.
Follow him on Twitter at @StuartABarnes

ValproateFluoxetineClonazepam

Every day four purple pills,
four laughing Smarties (cochineals
steamed, boiled, burned alive)
for disguise

a capsule, half ivory,
half peppermint (an elephant’s
head severed, a plant’s leaves,
flowers crushed) for grunt

another pill, pure
white, quarter-scored,
like the Eucharist,
like a sport

These are the cures that isolate
These are the cures that chill
These are the cures that splice the will
These are the cures that kill

(previously published in The Warwick Review Vol. VI No. 3 September 2012)

Glasshouses

for my father; and his

Sucking dentures, whistling ‘A Boy Named Sue’,
my father’d construct cold frames, terminuses
—one metre x one metre x one metre, four
facets, and a crown, hinged and flat, threaded
with sparkling wire—of the dark Goliath dwarfing
his father’s orchard since seventy-seven. Come winter
they’d clack like men across a draughtsboard over
the phosphorous earth, dilating, for their seedlings,
the sun. Every morning I clack my own
kind of cold frame, a mnemonic black letter
mustering catatonia, a blue translucence
(its anaesthetics too stark for naked eyes). Green
worms, my father’d whoop, fingers wiggling, tickling
underarms. Mine, like flourishing bruises, purple and burn.

(previously published in The Weekend Australian Review July 2012, and Issue 11 of Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry July 2013)

sad

The venetians creak—fog’s tonnage.
Condensation gasps
on glassy corners, gloomy Xmas
dec. The butter’s thickened in its crock like
dripping. A constellation of barbed starfish rises
from the mug of tea toward the ceiling
shooting watery cannonballs intermittently
as Hippolytus de Marsiliis’ fingers. The iMac, too,
is punctuated, each poorly catalogued knuckle
eroded
like an Apostle by my salt. Only
I, oddly overlooked, am hardhearted to this
seasonal affective disorder.

(previously published in Overland 205 Summer 2011)

Words witnessed, in traction, on Swanston St.

You fucking Asians
Stuffing your yellow
faces with

rice Picking
your Chinky noses
Yeah, that’s right,

get your fingers
right up there
Go back to China

I hope you die
today, bitch: I hope
a tram hits

you Thanks, Driver,
have a great
day

(title an adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Words heard, by accident, over the phone’, previously published in Mascara Literary Review Issue 13 – July 2013)

The Secret History,

your prized
thyrsus,
soon became mine
(no other could’ve prised my twenty-first
fist).

In a leather bar
that Frenchman’s
spiteful
telling,
then the laughter—

The Bacchic shout† awoke
A shoot entwined your throat

Quickly
I grasped some antiquity’s
safer
veiled.

†… I have chosen Thebes as the first place
To raise my Bacchic shout, and clothe all who respond
In fawnskin habits, and put my thyrsus in their hands –
The weapon wreathed with ivy-shoots –

—Euripides, The Bacchae, translated by Philip Vellacott, Penguin Books, 1973

(previously published in Leaves Literary Journal April 2013)

Reflections

on May 31, 2011, as headliner of Sydney’s Vivid LIVE, The Cure played
one of two ‘Reflections’ shows—its first three LPs (Three Imaginary Boys,
Seventeen Seconds, Faith) in their entirety, as well as a fourteen track encore;
‘The Lovecats’ closed both performances—at the Opera House’s Concert Hall

even sunstruck the ribs rise
from Bennelong Point like Arthur C.
Clarke’s black slab

I storm the frets, stopping
only to whirl when your aperture’s
cocked at my spine

this hair’s a tornado
of sand “ridiculous,” you needle,
“a blond gothic”

no licks of laughter
(Father, Son, Ghost shedding Prozac)
my Scorpio sting: “fuck off, Madame Acronym”

§

the ticket snakes
on knotted
wood shoved between twin beds

once
we had no need
for such arpeggiated space

dulled, you insult
in my headphones: ‘Other
Voices’, ‘A Reflection’, ‘Grinding Halt’

Fender grey,
a sea gull pummels crossbows
on the pane

§

three four five
raven finished
casts embark Dry Ice

I’m more cleft
(no line break)
than that acoustic-electric
presented by my Daddy

in stunting aisles minors gravedigger-
dance and mew
“the lovecatsss …”

a crèche of stars
weeps plasma at the mutilated
placard of the Harbour

(previously published in Cordite Poetry Review 38.0: SYDNEY May 2012, and Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry July 2013)

Stockholm Syndrome

they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh

—Matthew 2:11, King James Bible

I want to rape the man
that most recently
presented

“I want to rape you”

as though it
was veins,
tears, or gums

I want to rape the man
that most recently cross-
examined with

“why do they hurt,
they’re merely words”

I want to rape the man
that spiked
that pint

—the only drink
post-January ’96
I had any human
touch—

with god knows what
(how fortunate
I guzzled

that fistful of meth
upon entering
The Peel!)

I want to rape the man
that keeled in our bed

that zeroed
in on me, a
(single line break)
Great
white
shark

that ever
so casually

rowed,
through seething

water,
“you fucking liar”

as I keened
as I came clean

I want to drape the man
who altered me with garland,
tinsel and candy canes, and crown
him with a golden star,
then sing my hymn
of Bethlehem.

(previously published in otoliths issue twenty-seven, southern spring, 2012, and Issue 11 of Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry July 2013)

conversation

a found poem for Silvia Schivella

after the Emma Jones poem of the same name

“how did we make it up 2 yr @tic” –
(what am i doing w/ a lung ull o’ dust & a tongue o’ wood,

knee-deep in the cold & swamped by lowers? how shall
i tell anything @ all 2 this inant still in a birth-drowse?

what do u know about th@, my ph@ pork, my my
sweet, ace-2-the-wall? what keyhole have we slipped

thru, what door has shut? – the moon’s? is she sorry 4 what
will happen? have u seen something awul? when will it

b, the second when Ti’m breaks & eternity enguls
it, & i drown utterly? who is he, this blu, urious

boy, shiny & strange, as i he had hurtled rom a ?
what did my ingers do b4 they held him? what bloo, moony

ray ices their dreams? how long can my h&s b a b&age
2 his hurt, & my words bryt birds in the sky, consoling,

consoling? r u not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
who has dismembered us? is there no way out o’ the mind?

what r these words, these words? o God, how shall
i ever clean the one? is He here, Lil’ Poppies, Lil’

Hell Flames? do u do no harm? where r yr opiates,
yr nauseous capsules? what do they know th@ i don’t? –

i am bitter, i’m averse, a tiger this year @ the door, a Christus,
the awul God-bit dying 2 ly? O mother o’ leaves & sweetness

who r these pietàs th@ whisper “howz this, howz this?”
will it go on once 1 has seen God, once 1 has been used in

the sun’s conlagrations, the stains?) – “what is the remedy?”

sources: Sylvia’s Plath’s ‘Leaving Early’, ‘Candles’, ‘Zoo Keeper’s Wife’, ‘The Babysitters’, ‘Three Women’, ‘Crossing the Water’, ‘Event’, ‘Apprehensions’, ‘Words heard, by accident, over the phone’, ‘Poppies in July’, ‘Burning the Letters’, ‘The Tour’, ‘Years’, ‘Winter Trees’, ‘Totem’, ‘Paralytic’, ‘Mystic’

(previously published in Southerly Volume 72 * Number 3 * 2012 Islands and Archipelagos)

***

My sincere thanks to Stuart for sending me these fantastic poems and allowing me to publish them on here.

3 thoughts on “Stuart Barnes

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