Christopher Barnes, UK




Free Verse


The Assassin


She’s cryptanalytic, head bent
Over ruffled-silk animal heat,

(Ripcord, hook, eye, combination lock,
Knotty bliss)

Flip-flops the awning from their bed
Into his parachute.

In a twinkling death-deal
He quick silvers to a splatter.

She spirals triumphantly,
A golden-dyed head,
Purrs an obsolete lyric
Remindful of love,

Warps and guides
A vanishing trick
Into curly clouds.



The Be-Loud Stork


A plain word: night. I crossed the rivers
Of washday overfloods
In terraced lanes
Blank as North Shields sky, with the percussion
Of nervous marbles,
Lynxy optics sparkling, petrol
Glittery on numb pavements
In the dips of hunchbacked streets.

Roll back to where the radiogram drifts along.
It’s ‘Baby Love’
A skim across grit, Motorcity glamour
And my sister flings dough
Onto brown-lung sticky-back plastic.

I could never have guessed
That in a trembling of fit-for-nothing hours
Penny would slap the midwife, nor that she
Would spend the next two years blubbering,

Loud…through Captain Scarlet,
Bill and Ben
And even The Magic Roundabout.



The Bishop Suffragan’s Devotions


Two triangles joined together by a small annular platform. From this a great sculpture sprang thirty feet into Square Berlino. Malformed heads, open mouths spat out water. Silver needles, glinting, hypnotic sunlight, pricked oxygen-filled spray. Lazy jets of Adam’s ale, slopping into the font’s reservoir. City of fountains. Caravella’s design was most original; murmurs gave bewitchment to sleepy days and nervous nights of this dasyphyllous district.

Was it those liquid spheres, capricious dribbles that sent him off? A soft breeze through the vestry wooing the bare wooden stomach of Christ? He was certain that he was sinking; ambers, sapphires, lemons, a closing lens, blackening at edges of Bible-stained windows. Puckered, he wandered through a special unbelonging, his desire. As if a candle had been lit, Eden appeared, blond-haired, broad-shouldered, sky-green eyes. At a lift of basilican robes they were one, a single bead of sweat cried down the Bishop’s back. Then his usual horrors came, the fall, swirl of brume, swollen heads, shrivelled-genitals.

Aimlessly, a rusty sawfly crawls over an El Greco. Ebbing moon, blood red through glass, throwing ensnared glimmers. A malign annoyance unsettles the Bishop. In shadows, cathedral towers he glides dark streets. A turn, a calamitous eye in stone, ogling. On, and a whirling of splashes following, beyond a broken-up fence into Valentine Yard. Steadily, a fussy look straddling his face, to the dilapidated beef warehouse to cruise a muscular beau.



The Bohemian In Winter…


…defoliates light on the mystique of things
slips into (flexitime, before noon)
a punctilious wardrobe
of finicky lines, hot-quarrelling colours.

Mark time with a jaunt, intercity steel,
express-express, a townhouse landscape,
cheek by jowl semis, crow’s nest bridges,
the bloodshot brick of jettisoned factories.

And first and last it’s the tearoom
that tempts him in. He’s off and on
solitary, otherwhiles pally,
sampling at the edges
of a billow of quick-fire cream
in the dreamy mists of coffee.

There are the backbones of tomes to wrick,
deep-browed searches, airings
of splodged watercolours, crumpling oils,
skin-deep installations and pacific walks
along the riverbank.

So this life is never-ending
he squanders only Art,
makes secret studies of survival,
flings abracadabras up to evening stars.



The Busker’s Bin


I’ve sunk the pin-up of poverty
in this shop-soiled scratch card.
I’ll bloat
with the Mexican Wrap, out-of-pockets,
sucking fizz from a can
not a lick of nutritional gravity.

Mundane cardboard gift-wrap

high hopes sour
and in the screw-up precast as ‘Litter’
a printed woman’s neck
accordioned into her dislodged leg.



The Casual Prophet


The paving-slab diviner crayons…
“in self-absorbed minutes
a Day-Glo King will be garlanded”.

Succeeding this…

“an hombre with no back-harking
plonks into the bull ring”.

And lo,
the transsexual
who would be Matador
of Bilbao Street
thuds tan brogues
toewards to Conquistador inevitability…

…and a skin-graft pizzle.









to the top



Copyright © 2006-2009 Sketchbook and  All rights reserved