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Letter to self

‘The life we live is rarely the life we were given.’ Oscar Wilde

Denial perched on my heart,
I didn't know this, couldn't have.
It arrived days when inside
my little frame and head
my dictionary had only
white pages and when pain
had nudged me on to
a tangent of self sabotage.
Those lumps of anguish encased
in childhood blindness grew into
mountains of inabilities and rejection,
steering my mother adult to dole out
the oozing jealousies and torments
to a clean new generation.
I never witnessed the brand new
small frame and head torments,
the construction of new tangents, yours.
Today in this word of no heartbeats
I have reassembled my broken heart
and wake to the freedom that is peace,
to the pain that is remorse,
the aftermath of cruelty and rejection
and live in the hope and relief
that when you wake today
it will all be gone.
Forgive me please.

- Gene Barry

(featured in the poetry forum 08.09.14)

editor's note: With no past comes no forgiveness (nor guilt). Thanks, Gene! - mh

Stuffing Hanks

One day I will cry forever.
Not like a terrace loser,
or a baby-faced softy,
you know, a terminal cry.
I will stoke my engine with
nights-without-sleep and invasions,
childhood floggings and hidden wounds,
attacks and black-suited fiends.
I won’t forget to douse the unexpected
with rivers of anal blood and
floods of small-boy tears.
I will hold up all of those walls
I’ve fallen off and hidden behind
with screaming wrongs
and decorate my sky
with pointing children’s fingers.
A cortege of forbidden questions
will at last assemble
and trod with notice
to a brand new place of old
where every squeezed-open
pair of perfect ears
will finally embrace
my slowest form of death.
And they will no longer speak of the
odd-little-boy who grew to be
that strange-kind-of-fella,
always the loner decorating corners,
the weirdo and the dark horse
and I will meet the dark father
dressed in dresses from the dark box,
the groomer of my un-lived life;
I will wear my coat of fury and
beat and stomp and slap and bite down hard,
return the pent-up painful years of screams,
accuse and insult and verbally stab deep.
I will hand back shame,
stuff hanks of guilt deep into his larynx;
I will pleasure for my first time.
That same day a man will
fall into the carefully-planned
death of a family and each season
his only friend who understood him
will refuse to yield the buried
pictures of childhood he’d sown.

- Gene Barry

(featured in the poetry forum 06.21.14)

editor's note: Some abuse for the abuser from a crying child triumphant. - mh


Kazumi familiarises herself
with words with new meanings
too big for her little mind to reason,
- nano-sieverts – caesium – irreversible -
asks honest questions about
unfamiliar shaped vegetables
and queer fish with familiar names.
Since Fumio lost himself to suicide
her sickening mother dresses
Inari with luck-bringers,
frequently pulls her family back the
102 years to his birth year;
hides the emotions they daily discuss,
leaks tears for his wasteland.
Her grandfather visits upturned boats
in dreams where he trawls though
memories of catches and colleagues lost,
loses himself to small-boy memories
played in child-friendly fields.
On Monday he will lose himself
to another unwelcomed anaesthetic.
Meanwhile the masters strategically
seat themselves in the furniture of denial,
where decency is an unused noun
begging to be honestly served.
They sing press-conference tautologies
and blanket each other in minimize,
their verbal guns loaded with excuses.

- Gene Barry

(added 06.21.14)

Nessun Cancelli, Solo Ponte
(for Brian and Sinead on their wedding day)

‘Who, being loved, is poor?’ Oscar Wilde

There is an un-mined treasure pit
where Hammurabi’s scribes bend hourly
to tablet-etch the lush of their oneness;
it has no gates, just bridges.

Where he surfs every heart-filled wish
he dares to daily permit himself to dream
and she is a Picasso paintbrush
he lovingly paints his world with.

Where she is a Freudian archaeologist
delicately digging in the aftermath
of every unspoken mote her lover
has yet to broadcast.

Where they are a team of pit horses,
unselfishly delivering cargo after cargo
they willingly shovel out,
to stoke this world they love.

There is a precision in their loving
that requires no maintenance.

© 2013

- Gene Barry

(added 02.09.13)

In Search of Life

I searched for seeds I cannot
See in the largest pods I know
And in the hunger of this frustration
I eat again this lesson.

Ground damp and fertile I pause
Before I sow; up or flat I ask.
Being wise I take a second
And put them to bed together.

He up, she lying on her side
Each week I visit, dusting
Tidying, drooling as I go.
I tell them stories they don’t like

Of tarts and desserts and splits.
Of pies and sandwiches. Of funny
Slippery tales. I wait.
One sunny morning I cast a jealous

Eye towards my neighbour’s patch
And slowly permit myself a peep.
I weep to see the growing harvest
Wink and point my way.

I shout my first annoyance.
And dip and dig to chastise,
To find they’ve all left home.
A yellow note is posted on their bed

In writing all grown up,
‘Look wisely you silly man’,
And there they were all waving
From all neighbour’s fields.

- Gene Barry

(featured in the poetry forum 02.09.13)

editor's note: A gardener's life can be a "seedy" existence, a lot of work to make salad days for the neighbors. - mh

For Pasha

No one has seen the walls
that hover around you,
shields that only land
occasionally in polluted
fields of adulthood,
birthed by deaf ears and
confused and troubled as
your country’s barriers.
Your birth year blew
you a second violation,
a shock to torture your
family now summoned to
live a querulous-free life.

Is there a poet of gratitude
lurking in your twisted frame
burying volumes of antiquity;
those beasts that
bite you after binding.
Is there an Olympian caged
within, breaking ribbon after
ribbon. A podium tenant
riding heroic cantatas.
A screamer without an
audience. Are your trips
as grey as a funeral
procession or as pleasing
as a lap of honour.

- Gene Barry

(added 02.09.13)


They would make the music of self-praises
of artists, money men and university people
they knew would surely approve of them.
They would wear starched-smiling faces
dilute themselves to taste and silently
transmit the begging of urgent approval.
They would allow greatness to blanket them
urgently permit superiority to skip the queue
measure up and dress them head to toe.
They would stain the future of the innocents
slip in minefields and feed ambushes
destroy futures, cripple possibilities.
All of this while wisdom shaped as a brother
made the music of sawing and hammering
built a calm future, created vision.
All of this while their rejection slipped into
each downward push, each nail on the head
the only visible pain the blackening of a nail.
All of this while love played the redundant card
acceptance was a loner who played off-side
and tolerance was an engineering phrase.
All of this while he stained over accidents
dealt with the expected unexpected
frequently returned to his former self.

- Gene Barry

(added 02.09.13)

Aldebaran Appointment
For Stef

When you hit the Bull's Eye
Apgar checked her watch
and smiled as she listened
to your perinatal soliloquy.
The delivery room announcing

just another arrival

to the working audience,

but I'd swear

my eye's corner witnessed Zeus
blow a kiss to the blind usurpers;
both Gods and men awakened.
I viewed you first from a fascia of
relief and loved you instantly.

- Gene Barry

(added 07.23.08)

Tactile Memories
For my father Micheal Barry

How do I know your
drive to run these teeth
over the inviting dead
what torc to chose
when indicating

and yet I rub the
chiromantic map with
unromantic oils and
smooth each surface
without life

dress the contrasting
donors with shavings
toiled and blindly
undressed in lonely
un-hugged trances

why do I hold this
whistle in your
clasped hand
Spear's index
at the ready

with the open snuff box
in distracted thought
see to your nails
massage your waiting
mound of Venus

un-gloved you gave
to give me life
beyond our clasped
audience of DNA
I applaud you.

- Gene Barry

(added 07.23.08)

Narcoleptic Fodder

The winding completed and given up through
inhalations of new-born that these euphoric days
seem to grace each corner of our house infused
by your love through its umbilical broadcasts,

I rewind and rewind as I kiss and kiss again your
tiny floppy frame now resting on a dedicated
mould on a shoulder built for taking tackles
and breathe you into my future as I hear you

ask for your bath; and I answer in a whisper, yes.
My boy and I we dance through the instinctual
before we swim with you in sudsy bubbled
dreams and douse you with our love. O to run

the softest cotton over your un-boned knuckles,
through the neck tracks collecting angel remnants
that invitingly give themselves up, yielding to the
pleasure of a moment that is mine and yours,

to lift you from your soaking manger and swaddle you
in my arms and after drying to hold you naked to my
skin and fill the dotted lines. To spray your grotto
with blankets of white clouds before I dress you.

And bonding in the aftermath my adult returns to
whisper in an ear that seems to hear without listening
a host of promises and confessions, my votive
deposit decorating the foot of your basket.

- Gene Barry

(added 07.23.08)

A bit about Gene: Gene Barry is an Art Therapist, Poet and a practicing Psychotherapist who hails from Ireland.

He is the founder of Elbow Lane Poetry a bimonthly poetry event held at the Elbow Lane Inn, Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland. He is also the Chairman and founder of the Fermoy International Poetry Festival and chairman of the Blackwater Valley Arts and Crafts Council.

He has been published widely both at home and internationally. His chapbook published in 2008 by Rebel Poetry was called 'No Family Tree' and his second collection will be published by Doghouse Books at the 2013 Fermoy International Poetry Festival.

Gene was editor of the anthology 'Silent Voices', a collection of poems written by asylum seekers living in Millstreet. He additionally edited two anthologies 'Remembering the Present' which was launched in May 2012 and 'Inclusion' in August 2012.