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 cant 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 isnt 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,
hers 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 shes bitten through my lower lip.
Now hes in a schoolroom
in Indiana or Illinois,
his obsession with geography brings
me back to earth and the question;
Why doesnt 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 someones a little less so.
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.