A regional desire inhabits the oak
on the hill where the widow Samson
dreams of groves so deeply rooted
they reach the stream in the stone.
On the hill behind the house where love
leaves her shadows between the branches
and the sunlight finds its own fingers,
Benny traces the alphabet of desire
in the scrawl of her hair in his hands.
They’ll call it an affair, perhaps a sin,
but the yellow grass welcomes them
in a way the world knows is firm.
Though Greta the gossip will make up
something else if they don’t hurry and
they don’t, bewitched as they are with each
other’s bones–tree, hill, story, stream.
Yes, the roots and the earth, Benny and her body.
Tim Barnes teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at Portland Community College. His latest book of poems is Definitions for a Lost Language. He co-edited Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and now edits the Friends of William Stafford newsletter. He lives in SE Portland with his wife Ilka and their cat Lorca, both very beautiful . All three of them make wine together with the label Jaleo. His poetry has most recently appeared in Cloudbank, River Oak Review, South Dakota Review, Recto Verso, Xanadu, Silk Road, Poet Lore, Oregon English Review, and Untitled Country Review.
“Barnes has several approaches to writing. Some of them are very familiar, such as in his works that resemble Richard Hugo’s Triggering Town philosophy. Other poems are uniquely his. The poem, “Tree, Hill, Story, Stream,” is a good representation of this. His texts have a tendency to embrace the cliched rhetoric that is often weeded out during workshops. Instead of those poems being weaker, as taught in most workshops, his use of these phrases creates a series of poems that are stronger, entertaining, and simply one of a kind.” — Jerry Brunoe
Next issue features Tamra Carraher.