Barney F. McClelland
Excerpt from KotaPress Poetry Anthology Volume 2, 2002

The Ninth Commandment

For this, I traveled an hour through
snow and Christmas traffic –
Latte-sipping, graduate program poets
and an uncomfortable chair

An earnest young man stands,
delivers his vision of innocence.
A childhood peopled with grandfathers
hunting for arrowheads and fossils
in dry creek beds in Connecticut
or Kentucky – I can’t remember which –
my attention taken by her, his girl.
Adoring, yet cool, in her smart girl glasses,
black hair wound tight as watch springs,
and those legs, poems in themselves, long enough
to hold your shoulders like a vise.

I ask myself why he isn’t writing about her?

He now tells us he is a tree -
imagining his leafy fingers outstretched to the sky -
while I imagine mine
reaching under her blouse.
As he tells how his branches scrape the water,
her’s scrape my back raw.
The wind sings to him,
She nearly breaks my eardrum with her screaming.
He tastes the summer rain,
I taste blood where she’s bitten through my lower lip.

Now he’s in a schoolroom
in Indiana or Illinois,
his obsession with geography brings
me back to earth and the question;
Why doesn’t he write about her?
But, he will - someday -
the day she leaves him and every day after that
when she steps out of his vision of innocence and
into someone’s a little less so.

Author Bio
Barney has published numerous short stories, articles, and poems. These publications include Birmingham Poetry Review, Touchstone, Windsor Review, The Poetic Page, Forum, South Dakota Review,State Street Review, Pencil Press Quarterly, Zelo, Florida Magazine and others. In 1979 he was the recipient of the Mary Reid McBeth Memorial Award for Fiction. He currently works as a freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio and is the managing editor of An Cailleach Press.