FEATURED: Three poems by Barbara McVeigh
Ken Never Saw It Coming
Barbarian. It means. My name was made from universal sounds. The same howl in any tongue. Click. Come closer. Don’t mind the iodine. Barbarians bite and snap and lick the inner ear of any listener. If a tree falls. Body parts. Hunger beating on a drum. I make war with sex, camp in the woods behind your house, dipping doves in moonshine, pulling glaze on white. Desire bleeds. I seek wolves, but am kept instead with household pets: lip gloss, candy floss, ponytails, toenails. All the pink under the stars. When you embrace me, I sink my teeth into your shoulder, and leave a trail of rust behind the toys.
Listen when she says, “I’m broken.” Find the missing piece on the floor. Tune your ear to the domestic, the ribald, the spleen. Ballast the tide of emotions and dance her the only way you know how: across the black and white tiles in high heels. You keep each other upright, like that old piano in the kitchen corner, playing the same one song.
When you are lost, go to the woman who trades sanctuary from a pebbled cave down by the beach. She’ll read you with her pale blue eye and fix the price according to your need and supplication. Her black eye will move north to measure the waves of seekers still waiting to come ashore. Make camp from leather and twigs, spend your last coin on food. The woman will glide over stones as you are making speeches, dragging her corset for the rattle. Under your breath whisper: ‘I can change the world’, when she comes to collect the toll.
Barbara McVeigh is a Canadian writer and teacher-librarian. Her most recent work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Funicular Magazine, The Ginger Collect, and Ellipsis Zine. Connect with her on Twitter @barbaramcveigh.