The bad little brother of the Aurorean

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[one_half last=”no” class=”” id=””]John Barrale[/one_half]

[one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””]SPRING 2016[/one_half]

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*Editor’s Pick

A Rain—

that makes the trees dance and the house creak, a rain
of starts and fits, a rain of silent drops, a rain
of equations that increase, a rain
of dangerous animals, a rain
like a regiment,

a rain that streaks the park’s statues
and turns them dark, a rain
that drives me across the bridge
to the cemetery where I own a plot,
a rain that grows in my cracks, a rain
of dirty asses, mushrooms,
and toads,

a rain like fog in the street and snow on the horse, a rain
downsized and only for Sundays, a rain
like shipwrecks, a rain like coins
in a pocket and lint on a comb,
a rain with the faces
rubbed off,

a biblical rain like the end of days,
a voyeur rain like a keyhole assassin,
a rain like a woman with no past, a rain
that flies through the window, a rain
like the silence of lambs, the howling
of wolves, and the thunk
of elephants shitting,

a rain like the son you should have cooked
and eaten, a rain like the man-in-the-moon
punching his wife, a rain like hearing
the toilet flush by itself
when you’re alone, a rain
like watching Charlie Rose
when you’re drunk,

a rain of shame, a rain like being nude
in a dream, a rain like peeing
and wetting the bed, an awkward rain
like when she took off her bra
and you saw she had only one breast,

a rain like a sailor home from the sea with one leg,
a rain like the belly of the whale
that ate his leg, a rain like a tiger
tiger burning bright, a rain
like vegetables around a roast,

a rain like new tusks, a rain
like the old heads of canes, a rain
like the bird in the cage
at the foot of the stairs, a failed rain
that ate the plums
and left a note, a rain like her cat
in the window, a red rain, a blue rain,
a yellow rain, rain in all its colors,
especially crimson,

a rain like a blind date when you download
the wrong picture, a rain of her smiling
and saying You are my executioner,
a rain that talks in French, a rain gone viral
like a college of dancing cardinals,
a rain like a circus
where there are no people,

a rain of incandescent visions, a rain
that washes away scabs, a rain
of drowned souls, a rain
like catacombs infested with mice,
a rain like a detective’s pictures of Jesus,
a rain like a feast where the roast is alive,

a rain of nothing, a rain of wealth,
a rain of phrases heavy as logs,
a rain with no place to sit,
like a café without chairs,

a rain of cold gulls settling into their necks,
a rain like drugs in my brain, a rain
that fogs my eyeglasses, a rain of frogs,
miraculous and punishing, a rain
honest and unforgiving,
a full day’s worth, a rain
even and steady
like a long, slow fuck


Home from Alaska

Last night, we ate fish.

I bit into a fried back
and thought of how like a thousand bee stings
the rough suck of a bear’s teeth must feel
when the salmon is caught.

The moment is frozen, indifferent
and so alive.

I didn’t see this but can still hear the splash.
Glaciers calve. I did see one do this.
It was more sound than show.
A gunshot with nobody killed.

I remember gulping real cold, the unsullied freshness
blessing my lungs, but, like the bear, indifferent.
(I would later develop bronchitis.)

Still, I could give my eyes to the stinging brightness,
my heart to an uncluttered country, my intellect
to blankness. Yet we returned to the dampness,
came home to the melted ground
where our lives had rooted.

Here the loneliness is regular, and death
something scheduled for the future.
Soft sounds lull us, the night filled
with familiar noise, the kitchen tap dripping,
a car door opening or closing.

There the wind howls. Chilling. Ungovernable. A bear.
Here we speak the language of machines,
and my refrigerator has an ice maker.
It’s attached to a copper coil.
Makes ice cubes like babies.
They clink when they fall.
Mini glaciers.


[highlight color=”” rounded=”no” class=”” id=””]John Barrale[/highlight] was born in New York City in 1949 and graduated from Kingsborough Community College and Richmond College (CUNY) in 1972 with a B.A. in English Literature. Since 1978, he’s lived in New Jersey. He is a retired civil servant. He travels frequently, is a Jazz aficionado, and an avid hiker. His poetry has been published in Paterson Literary Review, Red Wheel Barrow (Volumes 1 – 8,) Poetalk, NJ Journal of Poets, The Lullwater Review, California Quarterly, Tiger’s Eye Journal, The Penwood Review, The Aurorean, The William and Mary Review, Narrative Northeast, City LitRag, Instigatorzine, Unrorean, and East Meets West—American Writers Review.