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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bird Box

falling off the back of the house
a box for birds
with its base separating
the paint disappears with each storm
alternately
birds and yellow jackets have fought over
this failing human construction
even when the roofers
added one sheet of shingle
there was no improvement
and still
they come year after year
to call it home
to raise their young
to return to where they
were born
where their parents
were home and were born
and I think
of my own children
who have started
their own families
in other boxes
slowly falling
from good to bad repair
as they age
and even with the addition
of a new roof
their homes will fall to the ground
and what children
will want that home one day
to raise their young and can't return
we all want to return home
we all want to be where
the generations
become who we are
flying out to catch a worm
to feed our young
to return next year
to the comfortable old box
that holds our memory


copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Turkeys

The turkeys cross
the fish road
one at a time
claiming the air
for the short jump
and then they gather
beneath the trees
to search for seed
the leftovers of a thousand deer
and squirrels
who still think
there might be apple up high
they've milled around
outside the south window
not knowing they were watched
and my lips tremble
as they believe in their freedom
their lack of responsibility
without really knowing what they have
on a cold day
And I am behind glass
just enough of a barrier
from the world
feeling ever so frightened
of what is really out there
and knowing it will come for me
one day
that something beyond the glass
without a name or shame
so what if my hand stops my lip
it can't stop the deep shake
that brings me the depth of a browline
and the tightening of my throat
not that I had anything to say out loud
not that I had anything



copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Wasps of South Creekview Road

A dissonant fall begins
after an atonal summer
when I accomplished nothing
for myself.
There were no melodies
humming from the woodshop;
no Christmas boxes or cutting boards
whizzing from the saws
and scraping top speed through the planers.
The vibration of wood only came from thunderclap
and then pinging of rain on plastic tarps.

I could not make the mower awaken,
so the neighbor nipped the front yard
to keep up appearances:
our money so tight that pennies
were a luxury jangling into the change jar.

All the while some wasps were building
their gray paper bells
that ring the eaves,
humming their unknown tunes
for just the necessity of offspring
and survival through the coming sting
of a long winter.
Am I to be the figure
of the fighting swallows
who battle them for space
in the early summer?
Is my heart ready to cut these colorless balloons
of future life down for the snow to soak away
the next generation of new fears
of needle sharp pains on shoulder or arm?
What would the monks do at their lofty altitudes
who kill nothing in defense of every spirit,
and should I kill a wasp
whose spirit am I snuffing?

Oh, I think I know:
non-believers and conservatives
who passed to the next life
in their speeding Cadillacs on straight roads
or peacefully in gilded beds,
thinking they had nothing to fear
from the next world
when they woke up
to a thousand eyed mother
pouring a colorless world around the siblings
from an unfamiliar mouth no kiss could touch.

Yes, I will pull them down before the worst freeze
and make them find another soul
away from me and mine:
this home for liberal wasps.

(mp3 file of Barry G. Wick reading this poem)

Copyright © 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Out of Order: the day before her 92nd birthday

Today she clapped for television shows
and counted leaves on trees
She thought she was in a hotel
and I'm always the servant
The glass is too close to the edge
The soup is cold
She takes off the alarm
I make breakfast
buttered toast, tea, cantaloupe pieces
a fully-cooked, single egg omelet
Toasted homemade bread and homemade chicken rice soup
for dinner
I washed towels and handkerchiefs
I re-dryed a previous load not quite dry
I washed dishes twice in the dish washer
I kept the kitchen clean
We're running out of milk
I vacuumed up dead flies and cobwebs
in the garage and moved wood around
I thought about installing the air conditioner
in the garage window
I'm tired
I dreamed of winning the lottery
I bought a house for my daughter
with my imaginary wealth
I gave her the two pills in the morning
I gave her the four pills at bedtime
I changed her paper underwear four times
I went to get the mail
There was no mail
It's her birthday tomorrow
I made myself a three egg omelet and three pieces of toast
for breakfast
I made a pot of coffee for me
I'm running out of coffee filters
I put sugar in my coffee
I put sweetener in her tea
I sat and watched her take her pills
at breakfast and at bedtime
I instructed her on how to wipe herself
We watched Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
on public television recorded from last night
I change channels for her to find something
that doesn't over excite her
We listened to Minnesota Public Radio on the Internet
I opened my email many times today during commercial breaks
I wrote a letter to a friend about something I'd written
I stayed in the jeep a little longer after
coming back from an empty mail box
I didn't back out of the driveway when the neighbor
was coming back from getting the mail in his car
I kept the air conditioning running all day in the house
I went to bathroom five times today
I took a short nap on the sofa
She can't control the chair so I pressed the buttons for her
She got up three times after midnight
She set off the alarm three times
I'm tired
It's the last hour and I'm typing
I'm listening to MPR
It's a cello piece
The dishwasher is winding down
It's 62 degrees outside
My left leg is on the sofa
My right foot hurts and is on the floor
I'm using a cake keeper in which to save the bread
We have 12 dollars until the end of the month
I have lottery tickets for Saturday night
I took handkerchiefs to her in her bedroom
before I turned out the lights
I turned on and off the attic fan to cool the house
I close windows in the morning and open them at night
I yawned
I turned off the computer
I went to sleep on the sofa in the living room


Copyright © 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Unhappy Audience

never mind the cute music
written for piano
by Zez Confrey
never mind the curtains
we've wrapped around
our heads in the second act
to get a laugh

we are bombing
in Afghanistan

the audience is losing its legs
and arms
in frenzied abandon
every time
one of our jokes
falls flat
on their homes

these skits are stale
and the actors
are tired
sitting in their
air conditioned trailers
their joysticks
swinging wildly back and forth
searching
for audience reaction

we are bombing
in Afghanistan

time and time again
we were told
that no act should follow
another
into that theater
but no
we just had to try
thinking we could make a difference

and there isn't a decent
pastrami sandwich
in a decent deli
that doesn't have to be
imported
Why did we think
the tallest letters
on the tallest sign
would gather enough
of an audience
to make our show go

we are bombing
in Afghanistan

when you have to build
the theater
and drag the audience in
bit by bit
when you have to make the light
flash suddenly on the stage
to shock the audience
into the awe of a great performance

well,

we are bombing in Afghanistan
we are bombing in Pakistan
we are bombing bombing bombing

bring down the curtain
close the show
quench the writers



Copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Friday, July 30, 2010

Singularity: from the Teacher to the Student

(for Teacher/Astronomer Ron Dyvig, an astronomical homage)


The perfect student is a singularity
from which nothing escapes
thinking itself greater than everything
that surrounds it
an arrogant black hole
with no bottom to its need
gravity enough to turn every
bit of knowledge
into a string of atomwords fed to it
one by one
each atomword some bit of knowledge
from which the student returns nothing
nothing escapes
everything captured
no light
no heat
no love
no hate
the perfect student feeding
on everything that surrounds it
voracious appetite unbound

The perfect teacher sits
on the threshold
of the singularity
allowing everything
to pass to the perfect student
unphased by the gravity
of the situation upon which he teeters
grabbing at him in a constant need
himself not needy
of the atomwords of knowledge
perfectly willing to let them
pass through him
yet somehow grasping each
and then spitting it away
instantaneously
in rapid fire
unphased by the experience
and yet remaining strong enough
to be balanced and distant
from the perfect student
to keep himself out of the way
of the singularity
that grows without growing
that expands without expanding
the becomes without becoming
visible

until one day it becomes
one conscious part
of the mind of God
in a bang...the bang

So these are the perfects
balanced apart like the poles
of good and evil
but not good and not evil
student and teacher
spinning faster about each other
until one day

the student awakens
in a flash of light
let there be
the student says to himself
to split himself away

from his teacher
to become himself

away alone

in search of that
which will satisfy
his loneliness
an electron in search of an orbit

One day grasped by a singularity
to become a teacher himself
who has found the balance
of the perfection he has sought
for so long now knowing
that nothing is perfect
unless it has passed through him
to others

And so the progression of the perfects
weaves the cloth of stars upon the heavens
the coat passing from one to the other
in the sudden bang of a student mind creating
the discovery that his teacher has been God
may still be God
but not God and not teacher
imperfect
and now

equal

friends

from each to each
back and forth
no singularities
no blackness
only light expanding endlessly
faster and faster
upon an unsuspecting universe


Copyright (C) 2007 by Barry G. Wick

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Smirk

daisies growing on the edge
of this lawn
herons setting down along the creek
a constant swirl of wind through ash
thunder from a summer storm

these are facts with no shame
then why create it
from old pages
retraced in many tongues
till all the fact is rung from them

this count is too many fingers
that wave through years
the curl at the sides of a mouth
seen often when a chick
no longer fits inside an empty shell

from this side
the stretch of the lips
betrays denial as if
there could be no one
with what is deeply so different

At each occurrence I feel the sting
to stare into some void
to recover enough to complete
the story that started
to be accepted as what I know

(mp3 file of Barry G Wick reading this poem)


Copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jokes

It is the jokes I play on myself
that are the funniest
jokes others cannot get
because they are heard only
in my head by and for an
audience
of one
joke about me involved
this or that
imaginations of the most absurd
anything to escape
the slavery and depression
in which I find myself

Copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A fool

On the edge of a river
there are two people
who sit on one spot
each claims
their hegemony
over the definition of the dark
that now pushes into the room
filled with the sound
of a piano
and a fan

Cooly one begins to act silently
while the other punches out notes
as if they were steel disks
created on a multi-ton press

Each pretends the other will
give up
both are wrong
when the real king
dances into the room
with cap and bells
wine spouts
from his forehead

Ay matey he screams
like some by-gone pirate whale
everyone bursts into laughter
from the place
where one finally decides
that what is done
is worthless

And so
they all go to bed
to pull the covers
up to his chin

(mp3 file of Barry G. Wick reading this poem)

Copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Inhuman

(for B.L.)


The sun is bright
though the windows
of the bus
thinking of him on the edge
of his life breathing his last
between the curb and his room
a blur
as are all such minutes
when thoughts are elsewhere
used for useless imagination
or prayers that never go beyond
the deepest thoughts
a blur upon arrival
and there has been a change
as people unknown crowd
around this friend
who had a mask upon his face
the day before
and now no mask to hide
his faceless gray expression
to force breath into his lungs
pumping the mix of science
and hope into a body that fails
yesterday on his side
now on his back
his naked body flat
his mother says twenty minutes
have passed since
and where was I
and where was I
squinting through the glass
of a cross town bus
lost between work bills and family
when this violence ended
and the unmentionable lifestyle
and the unmentionable disease
became an unmentionable body
in an unmentionable hospital
on an unmentionable day
and I only mention this
to remind you
to bring it into your mind
that across the hall
from his room
another man screams
for the family who cannot
bring themselves
to visit what
they have put out of their minds
their perfect suburban godly minds

(mp3 file of Barry G. Wick reading this poem)

Copyright © 2010 by Barry G. Wick

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Crimes of Spring


wind-played green
as breezes
sparkle the leaves after rain
in early sun the morning bright
tired eyes dazzled in it
typing this green that green
every green
fresh green
sun green
shadow green
green on flowing water
boiling through green yards
of tall grass
fast green too fast to mow
green creeping though chain links
green hiding and playing in new dawn
silly green joking green
and as the morning breeze calms
a serious green ready to work
green rolling up its sleeves
chopping up the sun
butcher of light
bloody green
knife and fork green
two-fisted green
eating up the bright
in great mouthfuls
dripping down the chin
of stuffed leaves
fat leaves
greedy green leaves
splitting the pants branches
spitting its buttons
across the yard green
It is the rich summer
of green stuffed wallets
stalks of green
shocks of green
frightening green
it's masked robbery
of everything in the sky
the steel leaf at my eye
green hammer cocked
green bullets spraying everywhere
ducking for cover in the green
and wiping the green sweat off my brow
surviving this criminal spring
this cool calculated green spring


Barry G. Wick


(MP3 of Barry G. Wick reading this poem)



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Optometrist (for my father)

As my eyes begin to fade
and the paper turns to mush
I've grown quite fond of 'puters
and the way they make me rush.

I push one button here
and all the letters jump
large letters make the read so easy
and the page no more a clump.

Perhaps it's not a screen I need
nor buttons easy tapped
but glasses clearing up the world
with blurriness quite zapped.

There's not a moment I don't think
upon my father dear
an optometrist who helped the blurred
and held good vision near.

I should see him with my fuzzy need
and knock upon his door
alas, he's gone on fishes' trails
to permanently snore.

(MP3 of Barry G. Wick reading this poem)


Copyright (c) 2010 by Barry G.Wick

The Bat

What's that? A bat!
Zinging through the air
singing his radar
way far
on a dark, moonless night
seen in the light
of a lamp on the street.
Neat!


copyright 2005 (c) by Barry G. Wick

A Better Mousetrap

After crushing
the rancid peanutbutter
sandwich cookies.
I completed
setting a mousetrap
called
The Frightened Nun.
Then I see a man
ice skating
on two pontoons
filled with hydrogen
sailing across
the interior
of a large warehouse.
As I awaken
I'm overcome
by the complexity
of the sculptured mousetrap
and the simplicity
of setting it
and wonder
if such a thing
would make my fortune
in this world.
Such fortunes await dreamers
who float through sleep
making better mousetraps.

(mp3 file of Barry G Wick reading this poem)

copyright 2006 by Barry G. Wick

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Last Petals

Brief minutes before
I get mother
from bed to chair
I stare at the creek
high for this year
and the crabapples
late at this altitude
having just lost their pink.

Perhaps trees
lose their minds, too,
their beautiful thoughts
as the years rise
longer than normal
in this late spring.



copyright (c) 2010 Barry G. Wick

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Path of A Snowflake

The Path of A Snowflake

A new crystal messenger
spirals between
religious bluster
announcer fluster
invisible electric clusters
mustering the courage
to drive its
six-sided metric head
into the bleached bed
mountainside spread
from the sky of its birth
cloud mother pride
clenching teeth
screaming as it thrives
in a floating hive
downward trenching
through spilled seed
to earth
always to earth


Copyright (c) 2007 By Barry G. Wick

Cleaning The Fun Off the Walls

Cleaning The Fun Off the Walls


A sub-teacher called on me
to grow up
by taking me to a ditch
to see the city lights
to drink peppermint schnapps
on the outskirts
funny, he comes on to me
and I don't fully understand

I wasn't sure I was gay then
and he drove me home
so drunk I'm amazed
he made it up
and down
our road

And when I went
into the basement
reeling
stumbling
in a poisoned stupor
we each had a bottle
a whole bottle

and mother chastised me
guilt about her father
drinking himself to death
and then
the night
waking up
rushing weaving
to the bathroom
puking on the walls
the floor
everywhere

this ache is not music
this smell is not haute cuisine
these colors are not art
this mess was my first drunk
and I spend the day
cleaning the fun off the walls.


Copyright (c) 2009 by Barry G. Wick

Taking a Moment

Taking a Moment


Here in March
there are still crabapples
on the tree
scavenged by blue jays
and squirrels
all winter.

On this snowy day
I get to listen to music
and watch the critters.

I've stolen this moment for myself
I awoke for it and became aware
that it's mine.
If you thought it was yours
you can't have it back.

Call the police.
Tell them I took this moment.
I'm not cooperating with them
right now
anyway
So you and they are going
to have to use this confession
to convict me.
My lawyer will say it was coerced.

Snowy days
in the moment
can be so tortuous.



Copyright (c) 2010 Barry G. Wick

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Death of Silence

The Death of Silence

I won't go back to teenage years
when vengeful reverends spoke
so clearly that I cowered low
and took their hateful yoke

Now I stand to age old books
to say how wrong they are
and burn down thought long in my head
the flames seen from afar

I am me and nothing's wrong
no matter what you say
I won't step back from fighting fronts
or kneel with you to pray

I'm just the way God made me
and that won't change a bit
I'm gay, I'm queer, I'd love a man
and for that I take a hit.

I have a right to live
love's been my lifelong fate.
so kill me now if that's your joy
I stand to face your hate.

Remembering some olden day
when all we did was talk
and never held a sign up high
or write on streets in chalk

I'm nostalgic for the march
and fighting in the streets
I'd rather crack some heads
than die between the sheets

Now should the future's child
need same-sex love to live
I've stood along the ramparts high
with just my life to give.


copyright (c) 2010 Barry G. Wick
(((Yeah, I know, and I don't like rhyming poetry much either, but this one came out this way...go figure)))

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Ghost in the Screen

The Ghost in the Screen

(for Randall Jarrell, Richard Hugo, Sharat Chandra, Rainer Maria

Rilke, David Wagoner, and Mike Forette)

Every time I see that ghost movie with Dan Akroyd
he talks of Camp Waconda where he went as a kid,
and I know the real Waconda Orchards where
Chicago kids came Northwest to pick apples in the fall,
where there were a few campfires and no overnights,
as far as I knew, but what did I know,
I just went there south and west of Waukegan
to pick up checks and copy for radio stations
to feed my kids 9 hours away in another life.

And the campfire burns tonight in my memory
of Ghost Canyon Ranch and the Engbergs
of Hermosa, ghosts again and real as you and me
sitting on logs singing songs in the dark,
waiting for the flashlight wars and stalking
through the breaks in rock called The Catruns.
I'm buying candy in the afternoon
after a long ride on a horse named Betsy.
When, by accident, her salty sweat touches my lips.

And tonight the new campfire burns smokeless
where I read poems to my mother as we sat warm
and covered with blankets searching the universe
for memories on a glowing screen
typing the names of remembered friends
searching for some word from the past
that would remind us of this moment we have had,
again watching the stars fall to earth like one November,
speaking in the poets voice a few words for our sponsors.

Clearly we see these words as I speak them loudly
across the years between my mother and me
and she asks if I wrote them and I would repeat
what old Hugo said to me in a youth-filled workshop:
“Every great poem is one you wrote anyway,”,
but if I told her yes I wouldn't be telling the truth,
and if I said no I didn't, I'd be lying.
And so goes Rilke's Buddha skipping across
the campfire now at the tips of my fingers.


Copyright © 2010 by Barry G. Wick