Bartholomew Barker

Roses

I only pretend to smell the roses
when I kiss their petals with lips
chapped by twenty years of thirst.

I never expected to live this long
without you.

For the Bird who Smashed into my Window

All that remained airborne
was a solitary feather
on its final flight

Not understanding death
drifting down

Galileo

Poets have been howling at the moon
since before we invented language

Our ancestors gazed at the stars
noticed five among thousands
that wandered the skies like chariots

Astrologers and scientists tracked
Jupiter as he marched along
regularly retracing his steps
at his most glorious

No one knew of his four escorts
each brighter than the little dipper
until Galileo pointed his telescope
up — and revealed what had been hidden
by the Jovian glare

And I mourn for the eons of reflected sunlight
wasted on our puny human eyes

for Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto

A farmboy sees the ocean for the first time

I remember my first visit to The City,
stepping onto a straight flat boulevard,
shuddering at the endless street lights
and buildings marching to the horizon.

I was afraid to cross traffic,
be swept away by a river of iron,
but trusted most drivers would stop
if only to avoid insurance paperwork.

Now I stand on a beach
and can’t see the other shore
and the fear is different
than it was among the works of men.

These waves are relentless,
waxing and waning with their own logic,
the guttural voice of the ocean
propelled into the land,
                                   beckoning,
                                                     compelling.

The fear is different here—
The ocean does not care
if I can swim and yet
I step into the surf.

Liberation

Harder to jump my first boxcar
than to leave my life behind
no more cellphone leash
no collar on my left ring finger
no nine digit dog tag
they’re all behind me now
where the rails converge

But no more pleasant dreams
beneath these naive stars
the fear of being jumped
the hunger of moldy food
the cough that won’t go away

Freedom means detachment
lost a tooth in the last fight
lost a toe in the last cold snap
lost my faith in mankind years ago
though a Styrofoam of alms offered
as though I were a monk
reminds me we’re not all bad

Hope they won’t find my body
that I’ll feed the earth that once fed me
can’t stand the thought
of being trapped in a box
for all eternity

~~~

Bartholomew Barker is an organizer of Living Poetry, a collection of poets in North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit. www.bartbarkerpoet.com Bartholomew was initially featured in 2020 on The Short of It and had selected pieces in The Sound of Brilliance.

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Amrita Valan

Life and Death

Life’s sacredness,
Death’s snatch. 
Love, loyalty, etched
On the crypt. 

Six-word stories

On Poetry

Poetry smiles, sings, weeps, exudes empathy.

On Life and Death 

Weeping, we brew tea, carry on.

We are testimonials. To love, lived.

50-word stories

Life

Life is very important while we are alive, but in the end, the stories of the days of our lives are even more so. 
The act of living is urgent, the narration of living is sacred. Live now, remember the storytellers who made you. 
The story of you, exceeds death.

Love’s Requiem: 

She played with her fork.
Green peas scattering from silver tines.
Ritualistic worship of the feast of inner life, rich meditations of mortality and satiety.
Her eyes swam, and she drank crystal clear claret.
Replenishing lost oceans, trust and sunshine submerged in Titanic icebergs.
He let go, her life raft. 

~~~

Amrita Valan is a writer from India. work has been published in online journals such as Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Short Story Town, Café Lit, and Spillwords. Her collection of fifty poems, Arrivederci, was published in May, and her collection of short stories In Between Pauses was published in November 2021. This feature is her second on The Short of It.

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Imminent Danger

survival hits different
for every being on this earth
adults and children
kept and free animals
even our beloved planet
facing physical hardships
whether risking living
with little food
or minuscule comfort
or none at all
whether beat into submission
before they could find their voice
or any number of unbearable situations
through no other reason
than a perfect storm
coming together by chance
life’s variables colliding just because
those unlucky enough
to always be on the end of surviving
the punishments doled out
by indiscriminate and unfortunate circumstances
or by forceful, living monsters
created by an evil social consciousness
insinuating their vileness
into the vulnerable lives of the innocent

survival hits different
and sometimes
not at all

Screams Under The Supermoon

Inspired by Reena’s Exploration Challenge #235 & Eugenia’s Weekly Prompt – Strawberry Moon

A blood-tinged orb in the sky preceded the night’s events, foreshadowing death and destruction as the night unfolded; they chilled me to the core. 

Bodies with deep, savage cuts, leaking their lives onto the grass, were littered everywhere—the green of the strawberry fields hidden beneath gallons of blood spilled.

My heart rate pulsed considerably higher than usual, my exhilaration palpable as I plotted the details of my next novel. With each sickening paragraph of the gore expressed, I felt more and more diabolical.

Sometimes, even I am afraid of the things my mind comes up with. How sick am I?

Carotid Wine

Redux

She’d had enough.

His end was near, didn’t know it though. He was clueless.

Her knuckles tightened around the elegantly shaped wine glass. Instinct and rage fueled the glass crashing into the side of the table. Only one crescent-shaped shard fell away.

It was the perfect edge to damage a pulsing artery.

She gracefully, furiously, lunged for the side of his throat. His vital organ cut wide-open. A rhythmic stream began pumping out, gushing blood down and out over his body. With stunned horror, he gripped his throat to stop the bleeding.

She watched, fascinated, as he was dying.

Doctor’s Hours

Inspired by Sadje’s What do you see #128

the cobwebs of the day grew thicker
even coffee proved useless
after three ten-hour shifts
mucking around in and on the bodies of those ravaged
by detrimental accidents necessitating ER visits
an assembly line of in-home, highway, work, and all other accident producing places
a mild laceration from slicing oranges
to a hand versus garbage disposal situation
or fists breaking windows following jaws broken by fists
to anaphylactic shock from eating peanuts
using a scale of 1 – 10
i witnessed and fixed hundreds of every number
i was exhausted
it was time to go home

my decision to stay for the third shift
may not have been my best
as i watched cones laid around
my mangled car
the overturned truck and its driver
unconscious but thankfully breathing, unlike me
my dead and bloodied body on the pavement still
the red life liquid from my corpse almost reaching the closest cone

if only i’d stayed in my lane

Achievement Unlocked

Redux

I Write Her

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No more…

wars
hatred
pain
lies
violence
abuse
crying
indifference
assholes
shame
guilt
anger
sobbing
frustration
neglect
discrimination

There will be an end to enduring suffering.
A permanent respite from all that is wrong with the world.

Finally peace.

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Amrita Valan

The Season Changed

The season changed
Deranged with loss, oh, how I grieved
The season changed.
Spring lambs leapt; blue skies furled white sheets
A cloudy barge carried your hearse
A setting sun shed crimson blood
The season changed.

The lovely moon

The lovely moon
Sent me into, a trance, a swoon
The lovely moon
Whispered gibberish, silver bliss
Made love to me, sly crescent tease
Winked eternal love, blew a kiss
The lovely moon.

The Death Dance

Death floats above my mortal
Cast-off shell
Adieu, life, as I knew it
The spring wells of joy
The pools of tears,
The daily grind
The nighttime fears
I am to hold hands
Dance above my corpse
With the great leveler
In the holiest temple of all
Without body or address
Dwelling outside time
And space
Where when I flatline
Where I go
Is something now I shall
Come to know.

Will You Be Mine?

I don’t want to be rescued.
Be
My deliverance.
I don’t want to be saved.
Be
My salvation.
I don’t want to be loved.
Unless I can love you back.

Please, don’t open doors for me.
Or offer me your seat.

Be my doorway
To brave beginnings
And I will rise,
Stand up for my beliefs.

Cost of Betrayal

My infidelity did not anger him, strangely enough, it humbled, crumbled, and made him so meek it broke my heart.

Lights Die Out

When he finally cracked, it was a ‘blink and you will miss it’ moment. The twinkle in his eyes extinguished.  

End of a Love Story

In short, though I was ready to forgive him, he had moved beyond the need to be forgiven. The end.

~~~

Amrita Valan is a writer from India, and she has been published in many online journals and anthologies. Recently her debut book of fifty poems Arrivederci was published and is available on Amazon.

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I’m Listening

hearing
but not understanding
yet

slowly grasping
ever learning
baby steps

comprehending
following direction
developing a stride

selective hearing
going your own way
breaking free

wisdom lands
solid choices made
good outcomes

mechanical tuning
fainter signals
but smiles can be heard

the universe calls for me…

Life’s Journey

Inspired by Eugenia’s Weekly Prompt – Jubilant

as we weave towards our end
rushing insanely
the bends slow us down

moments of floating
pleasurable and relaxing
harnessing our strength

the undertow
at times
sucking us down

yet jubilant moments
keep us bobbing
on the river of life

time trickles to near stop
and the river bed dries to dust
as we weave towards our end