Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rusty Barnes

What You See on Shirley Street

A woman with a child crosses
the street from BK's Bar to the beach,

pushing the child by the butt like
a dog and dragging a cheap stroller

behind her. I didn't know you
could even bring kids into bars,

so already this day has taught
me something. The street also

teaches: buy pot here not heroin;
the Cambodian market is less

easy to scam than the bodega;
hang out here long enough you

might see a good tattoo; there's
a satellite police station on the beach.

but no cop is ever there. What the
street seems to want us to learn

is that every story you see here
has four sides and if you listen

closely you can hear them all
under the pavilions and on the wind

with the smell of cheap hot dogs
and the ever present sea air.

* * *

 Belle Isle Marsh

Every time I visit the Belle Isle Marsh
I feel like a six foot two 300 pound target.
No crime takes place there that I can see
But any time I walk into the reeds I expect
to see a body or a rape taking place. Before
I had this feeling we buried my daughter's
dead hamster Brownie there under six
inches of loam and a rock pyre
in memoriam. My daughter didn't know
better so I went with my ace plan
at the burial: I recited from the Tibetan
Book of the Dead. O soul of Brownie
as you confront the endless void. . .
Then I forgot where I was and had to start
again at the beginning while inside I thought
Brownie you stinking offal in your expensive
cage I am reciting this because my daughter
does not know how to lose you and is chirping
back tears and even as I speak I do not
know how to lose her among these endless
alphabets of rock and starshine and tears
so I stand here in the marsh and gibber
silently to myself years after the fact in
this place I fear for both what it holds
and what may happen, neither of which
I can control.

* * *

Rusty Barnes lives in Revere, MA with his wife, the poet Heather Sullivan, and their family. He's published over two hundred stories and poems since 1989, when his first submission hit the postal system. His poetry book I Am Not Ariel came out in 2013.

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