Poems

Here is just a small sampling of my poetry published in print journals. Many more poems in online journals are available through the Links page. Check back periodically as the poems here will be replaced occasionally.

Cathy Barber Typewriter

Sparrows

A golden shovel poem after Jack Kerouac

by Cathy Barber

There are questions to ask yourself. Three
hundred times in your life, at least—little
or big, kind or funny, hawks or sparrows
—and you may answer ‘big’ on
Monday and ‘little’ on Tuesday, the
answers and questions shifting—roof
or basement, poison or guns. Talking
won’t help you decide—quietly, quietly,
you may see, happily—or sadly.

“Sparrows” was published in Poems from the Wellspring, an anthology of poems written at Wellspring House writers’ and artists’ retreat in Ashfield, Massachusetts. Edited by Arlyn Miller and Wendy DeGroat, Poetic License Press.

The New Yorker

Donald Reilly died June 18, 2006, at age 72.
He created 1,107 cartoons for The New Yorker.

by Cathy Barber

I’m a poet; I ought to turn first to the poems,
the three shortish, tasteful, doublewide columns
in black, faintly fresh ink. As a writer, I should move on
to the fiction, T. Coraghessan Boyle, John Updike.
As a liberal, the news notes at the front ought to pull heavily.
No. I read the cartoons. I flip fwap, fwap, fwap,
through the pages, leaning against the cold kitchen counter
before sorting the real estate post cards from the bills and
rejections. I carry the magazine to the fridge, to the toaster,
back to the counter, cinnamon toast held whole by my teeth,
never taking my hand off The New Yorker, my eyes off
those pen and ink worlds. One child to another,
“What kind of water does your mother buy?” One penguin
to his sunglass-sporting companion, “Oh, get over yourself.
We were all in the movie.”

The New Yorker” was published in Two Review.

Up to Our Necks

After a Life Magazine photo of U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam

by Cathy Barber

Late afternoon.
The shadows are long.
If I were home, and had a job,
I’d be checking the clock,
waiting for five o’clock or six to hit
and I’d be outta there.

I’d have a car, a Chevy,
to cruise the streets, and a girl,
maybe Marian Brown
or her sister. I’d have dry smokes
and seat covers, a tape deck
and my favorite tunes. I wouldn’t be
up to my neck in water and fear.

Nothing would have brushed
past my leg and there wouldn’t
be water buffalo on the far bank.
I wouldn’t be wondering who
is tending them
and if I’m about to shoot someone
the age of my brother Ricky.

I’d be in the kitchen, hugging my mother
until she scolded me, Enough already!
I got things to do without you
hanging on me all day.

“Up to Our Necks” was published in America’s Intercultural Magazine (AIM).

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