Poetry by Nicholas Barnes

j. dean boys

it’s not like the teen rebel movies / you find the black bookbag / take out the pens and paper / replace em with socks / clean underwear / do i take my toothbrush / will the seats lay back that far / what if someone finds me / like a roly poly / in slumber / the windows ain’t tinted / think of it as a sleepover / in the high school parking lot / right next to ballfield fences / what if i get caught / is this just a mayday / to see if anybody still cares / the cops never helped me before / why would they now / the smalltown gossip engine / turns over again / is this bad / am i bad / am i apple / am i rotten / when the neighborhood hears / will they kill the boy / or just scare him / thwarted boys / scorned boys / remember / the wimpy boys / boys with no balls / jailbreak boys / boys with no fucking guts / boys that got walked over / them was me / and me was them / boys are evolving / new organs to digest grief / boys in floor length mirrors / size themselves up / left hook / right uppercut / just in case / boys like me danced / like i was in the ring / boy me cried / like i gave a damn / readied myself / for domestic enemies / was i a good boy then / am i a good boy now / boy i can’t imagine / putting another boy through it / never / i refuse / will i ever be daddy / do i want boys / i don’t / no / i’ll never make boys / seriously ponder / spending the night / as runaways / like i did / never boys / need never desert / never boys / need never ask / will the white boat car start / is there gas in the tank / will i be warm tonight / in my flannel sleeping bag / will it keep me safe / will i die here / will i die without / a boy kiss / a girl kiss / a kiss kiss /

their souls could’ve lifted so high

a nicaraguan perdomo flirts with my soot covered animus. outside the happy sexagenarian home. all that oxygen says hay grass leather uncle-to-be. sitting on railroad ties. which stretch of rail did they belong to. which stretch of rail did i belong to. do wristwatches lost in airport bathrooms still tick tock. did a factory make me. am i tin man before he gets his mettle. no heart. ice touch. warm touch. love touch. stray child. county fair. foggy poppy springfield of my origin. thoughts flit to condoms and harmonicas and all of their oral glory. a dirty mind is a funhouse bounce castle. but i’m docile as a turquoise browed motmot. only ever punched two people. and they deserved it. one was on the #3 school bus. just like that yellow blur right there. back from kindergarten. back from the pumps. back from the cranes. friday in four-high. hardhats flung up like graduation caps. the kids are looking to tie one on. they’re sneaking brandy through the juice straw. jake brake road rage and shout the honk horn. sounds like pentecostals sermoning fear mongering. my hands shake. my hands snake. fear the holy snake. if you’re good he won’t fang ya. another hiss. another sip. in then out. where’d it go. my perfect song. my shoulder parrot. my leading role. in quiet desperate hours i diva in my brain. cabaret lounge. legs crossed. riding the baby grand. oh i’m singing i’m a fool for you-ooo-ooo. maquillage running down my cheeks in heels. and into a heavenly smoke cloud penetrating the hot breathy maw of this quince summer.

Nicholas Barnes

Twitter: @ColesWordsPoet

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