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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Early and Horrible

Rossini was challenged
to prove his youthful talent
Six sonatas
he later called horrible

Jacqueline Rochester
a southwestern painter
had a clearance sale
in a previous
north central community
where true success
was impossible
said a painting
of a Mexican Indian woman
should be destroyed
but needed the forty dollars

Any halfway decent poet
ought to destroy everything
that was written before
what a reader might
be reading now

Everything but the now
is disgusting
droolish horse apples
stretched in a line
on a rainy afternoon
without so much
as a poncho
to shield the artist
from the road splatter
of the fawners

So erase this after reading
because the words
feelings and images
no longer exist
in a writer's mind
unless of course
it is the last writing
that stews itself
for a rewrite
in a coffin
or as the flames
lick at the spinning brain
stirring a scream 
to stop
as it seeks a better word
to replace the trite
just read
by those
not yet dead
who will acclaim
the last lines
and mystical
gODD dammit

Barry G. Wick

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tom the Cobbler

At first the odor
accosts us
It's a small mess
on the inside
of his shop
and in that instant
its reputation is sealed
in the affirmative

Tom can't retire
because he's too busy
fixing shoes
selling shoes
selling everything
needed for shoes
little colored jars
of this or that wax
cans of this or that spray
hundreds of shoes strings
of every variety

This isn't a mall
where neatness counts
Here the only attraction
is Tom himself
with his spectacular
white hair and mustache
What he does
for a new customer
he's never met
someone with a simple fix
he starts on it right away
while the world enters
through the same door
to pick up a purse
that needed a new zipper
a better one
Someone ogles
colored shoes
An old man with a walker
sits near the entrance
unable to get further in
But how does Tom repair shoes
and care for customers
at the same time

The smell is a clue
there's no mistaking it
the elves of the old shoemaker
have taken up residence
to help Tom
in Iowa City

Elves it is said
smell of gingerbread
but careful discernment
inside the nose
picks up notes
of fruitcake
and rum babas
An elf on rum babas
is pitiful
Ask it to resole a shoe
and you're likely
to get a billfold back
Fruitcake munching elves
are mean
sometimes vicious
Tom can't let them
greet customers
They refused to read
by Dale Carnegie
If elves eat gingerbread
they will slobber
all over you expressing
love of mankind
Eyes roll every time

Tom is patient and wise
always watching elves
for the potential
of such a mistake
It's why he's so friendly
with his customers
That way the elves
don't help
in the front
And nobody likes
an elf who paws
and slobbers

Barry G. Wick

Friday, December 16, 2016

Old with Animals

We all see the stories
of old women
who have cats by the bale
that rule every corner
of a uncontrolled house
or the old man
who only leaves his chair
to let the dog out
that grows gray
along with his owner

When the furry face
no longer sits in a lap
or lays its head on a leg
for a scratch on the head
a woman will busy
herself in undone projects
to forget the loss
and a man will pull
a few hairs from his beard
conveniently stuck together
with drops of yoke
to feel the pain of loss
he stifled every day
of manhood

But what of the people
who are allergic
to furry box huggers
or who can't walk
a dog in places
where the dog
must be on a leash
to be in the sun or snow

Even a goldfish
in a bowl or tank
discovered to be floating
by a homebound
elicits tears
that enter a bubbling tank
unnoticed by no one
when in other years
a parent would flush
and replace
before the end day
school bell rang

The little friends
who just breathe
in the same room
keep love alive
when working children
and world-exploring grandchildren
never call and never write

The old call it justice
for the same treatment
they lavished on their family
in days of work and growth
with the stillness of snowfall
seen through blurring eyes

a bored dog's sigh
the flick of a cat tail
the burp in a bubbling tank
reminds those forgotten
that forgetful family
will get theirs
as an evil laugh
races silently through
a graying head

Barry G. Wick

Monday, December 5, 2016


I read my parents' letters
in the light of an oil lamp
that flutters in the evening breeze.
The words cast shadows unexpectedly
over the years back to my mid-teens
when everything I spoke
hurt them as deeply
as my own child
now breaks my illusions.

When just the breath is heard
raking across the tightening walls
of my chest,
all things separate from me
and become the paper-thin seascape
of it:
only the one needed hug
or hand held in this growth
of final silences.

Perhaps the shaken sense I have
of the letters in each word
is not advancing age,
but the apprehension
in their own thoughts
wandering through a mined land
I once planted for them.

Barry G. Wick
written possibly in the late 1980s
unknown date


All clean inside this silence
without audiences creating noises.
The sweep of the landscape
changes with color.
No simple movement, this,
no eyes, no mouth,
no vibration of the threat
or repositioning of the tongue.
This will never light the way
for some young student.
It will become itself
in a drawer with dust
or ashes.

Barry G. Wick
written in May of 1991
recently found in some very old papers

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Stage (for Vice-President-Elect Pence)

Watching an actor
on the boards
for the hoards
is a challenge
to brains that are tame
More often than not
the words and the movement
send a shot of improvement
to someone who's not part
of the plot
If going to the theater
is just to sit back
for nothing to happen inside
it's a waste of space
that playwrights confide
someone in the audience
is slack
Next time the lights
fill a stage with delight
go deeper
than smiles and bone
Let actors and words
sink into your skull
to spark some thought
in a neuron

Barry G. Wick

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I am a computer simulation
written by a student
of programming
in a civilization
that sends bots
to check on our progress
They appear as UFOs
As a simulation
I have to examine
the life given to me
inside a machine
as it relates
to the student
who created me
I failed in math
and had no interest
in numbers
I failed in business
I failed as a pianist
I failed in so many
ways that I'm certain
the student who wrote me
failed the course
And yet I keep running
to keep failing
in the corners of the computer
that hasn't been cleared
of the projects
of the last class
I've even failed as a poet
In my next incarnation
I shall choose
a student who is smarter
at least enough
to get a passing grade
Will someone please
drag me to the trash

Barry G. Wick