C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

georgic; the transfiguration; state of the union

By: Steve Barichko


i begin as a giant priest

swinging smokeboxes among rows of temples

the combs are for cutting out for dripping into mouths

the drones don’t mind the queen wingless and asleep

her head daubbed in blue she is year zero

fewer things than i think are ruby breasted

mostly birds stilling themselves in the nearby brush

eating the soldiers on patrol in one mouthful

the sound of my twenty two lifts them from their perches

some flush and circle back as though tethered

what coward shoots a wood duck in the back as it drops

wings out to its mate’s lower perch in the trees

i follow its chest swelling and thumping in a leaf pile

make out eyes that have been watching me approach

with a look of betrayal i thought only people had

next hunting trip i turn the gun on myself and fire

in eagerness to prove i am not afraid

and that having deduced my omen fate will not take me

right then anyway but i had palmed the round

i am that sort of coward

banished to the exhaustion of older girls

repetitions and ratios of campfire apple pie

the one who slips the pans onto the embers has red knuckles

tells me smart runaways wait until summer

they pack watermelon and fried chicken and nothing else

i say to no one teach me the trick to slipping past

small-town cops and rows of trees all stapled no trespassing

the answer came when a stray collared one-eyed dog

kept pace with me for twelve miles even after i slipped him free

it had been days since i called anything by a name

the transfiguration

i am a plus one at a wedding in santa fe when i look at the familiar ditch

of her spine she sends me up to our room i check my horoscope i am still moored

to nostalgia for lost futures i could be a suzerain if i learned to be my own other half

so i take and eat both tamales saved in the mini fridge grab the complimentary book

of vagina poppies and check my bank account before going out for mezcal

three drinks under the big moon the mesa has invaded my new england sensibility

thumbing through high gloss repros i am ready to offer cut poppies to my feminine half

stem first down my throat like copulation

like a bleached longhorn skull every orifice a vase

state of the union

they’re rebooting

old sitcoms

boy bands

have reunited

after fifty years

they’re exhuming neruda


he really was poisoned

everyone is texting

an ex or two

reading hometown obituaries

buying crayons

and coloring books

making too much

sourdough bread


still ok

columbus decapitated

in waterfront park

jefferson davis

noosed face up

on monument avenue

seven cops

beat a black grubhub delivery man

on a bicycle

police chief at press conference

and i quote


what cutting edge


tells us

the race kidnapped


for four hundred years

has been aware of it

this whole time

so manhattan

white flight

met opera bankrupt

the magic flute


all sorts of good heartbreak


on bad perfume

summer homes

nyt arts section


still white

stream him at home

dean and deluca

will overnight

a cheeseplate

sorry still

no haircuts

wear a mask


with your dog

fourth of july


god cancelled

groups of seven

or more


at a night bonfire


humid and windless


four beers in


shoot bottle rockets

into trees


where did you get

professional stuff

the size of cantaloupes

rough and rowdy ways


james taylor aged out

took only one year

seventy two

hair white

nearly gone voice shaky weak

unsure eyes welled up with

happiness of dementia

he knows

the crowd is there for him

doesn’t know why

beyond decay is the ear

for counterpoint

harpsichord fingers

still there

beyond decay age seventy nine

what the hell are you

bob dylan

at the tulsa rally

they like their punchlines

without jokes

do mattis

do fauci

fuck windmills

we’re hiring the karate kid

to fight kung flu

don’t say their names

if they could talk

they could breathe

air force one

is thirty years old

time for an upgrade

they want to defund

the military

but our new bullet casings

will sprout

kentucky bluegrass

when they hit

the ground

Steve Barichko loves eating food cold and was the voice of Jafar in Aladdin II. His work has most recently appeared in FeedLit Magazine. He is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Find him on Twitter and Insta @stevebarichko.

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press:

How long have you been writing poetry?

Steve Barichko:

Since about 2005.


Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?


I can’t. But I know that Latin American and Spanish poetry was what hooked me first, so probably something by Pablo Neruda. Something from his 100 Love Sonnets. Or L