C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

georgic; the transfiguration; state of the union

By: Steve Barichko


georgic


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

maybe

he really was poisoned

everyone is texting

an ex or two

reading hometown obituaries

buying crayons

and coloring books

making too much

sourdough bread

masturbation

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

despite

what cutting edge

phrenology

tells us

the race kidnapped

oppressed

for four hundred years

has been aware of it

this whole time


so manhattan

white flight

met opera bankrupt

the magic flute

orpheus

all sorts of good heartbreak

lost

on bad perfume

summer homes

nyt arts section

othello

still white

stream him at home

dean and deluca

will overnight

a cheeseplate

sorry still

no haircuts

wear a mask

jogging

with your dog


fourth of july

cancelled

god cancelled

groups of seven

or more

flirting

at a night bonfire

hazy

humid and windless

everyone

four beers in

cancelled

shoot bottle rockets

into trees

alone

where did you get

professional stuff

the size of cantaloupes

rough and rowdy ways

unstoppable


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.


CNP:

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


SB:

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