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A spectacular butterfly
splendid in its monochrome, leopard-print reflecting armour
flies unto the lavender branches
recently budded in my garden
Fancying myself a faithful reader of Nabokov
and drawn to anecdotes of self-glorification
I thought I should become a Lepidopterist
and catalogue its striking corpse
beginning what could become a masterful collection
Me, the quarter-tanned Irish bopping all in tennis whites
with mock-radioactive web of butterfly doom among the wooden yard dividers

But where should I keep it?
this hype-building collection of one
amongst my dust-collecting books
my backdated journals and flaccid-worn glossy magazines
my "value-appreciating" vinyl records
the more prettily curated and precision-hung images that curate my partner's collections?

No, it is not for me
to stop it succumbing to dust, to allow it turn into something beautiful again
if a tragic kind of beauty
amongst the dirt, for something becomes more wonderful when
it's beauty is not forced on show
but produces itself through more layered, yet uncomplicated means
returned back out of the dust, without any of our artificial light
recording again it's eventual demise
Her baby was buried
in a grave alongside 827 other babies.

Who knew no mothers.

Her mother thought it best
to let the nuns help her sell the child to the Americans.

The babies would have had names like Dermot, Aoife, Sandra and Sean

"Would have" isn’t an awfully good thing to think about.

It was a typically miserable November Sunday
When they brought her over there
after that last mass.

Unrelated to this, there is a launderette named the Magdalene
in the city I live in, which is nowhere near Tipperary but in the East of England.
In fairness, it is located on Magdalen Street, without the second “e”,
A once rough and tumble but now up and coming kind of place,
where among the students and young professionals getting their whites cleaned
the only ones likely to take offense at this are students of history or the named émigré children of
Irish parents.
I’ve been told it’s now a chain of launderettes, but I imagine the owners have enough on their mind
without constantly Googling their services.

When they let her out of the home for troubled girls,
it was the warmest July she’d ever seen.

Some days the baby’s name is Michael, others it’s Matthew, recently, it’s been Corey, Ryan, even Sean.

But she never wishes that it would have been a girl.
The Fifth Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland was released to the public yesterday, April 18th 2019. These "Homes" facilitated the birth and adoption programs instituted by the Catholic Church in Ireland, with the purpose of incarcerating women who fell pregnant outside of marraige. The mother and babies who did not survive life in these non-hospital envoirns were buried in mass graves in sites such as that of Tuam, co. Galway. The full report can be located here https://www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/mother_and_baby_homes/20190416Mother&BabyHomesBurials5thInterimReport.pdf
In Waterstones
Sighing at the bestsellers
opaque at the corner of my right
eye two ladies late in life
are centre stage amid the table
paperbacks.

“Are you following me?” the taller bellows
brimmed headscarf towering over her NHS bespectacled
sister of afternoons and shopping mornings
continuing a conversation that has obviously
followed them their entire friendship
seeming the matriarch of the pair, she is circumspect
in her contrariness.

Whatever entitles her to this
Guardianship of self-importance
Her being a lighthouse rising above the mists
condensing off beaten shards of rock
is subdued by her companions’ pithy response
“no-you know I have no interest in Autobiographies.”
Westley Barnes Dec 2018
Your soul, which loves my own,
Is woven with it into an old Tibetan rug.

Strand by strand, these enamored colours,
Stars, that courted each other across heaven's length.

Our feet are resting on this treasure
Stitches numbering in the thousands.

Sweet desert son on your musk plant throne,
How long has your mouth kissed my own
and cheek to cheek has time in colour woven us?

-Else Lasker-Schüler (Translation : Westley Barnes, 2018)
This is my translation of the poem "Ein alter Tippettepich" by the German poet Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945). Lasker-Schüler's work became synonymous in her own lifetime with the German Expressionist movement, and her work was featured in the editorials of many of her contemporaries, including Karl Kraus (1874-1936)  in his journal Der Fackel. As a Jewish author and illustrator famed for her bohemian lifestyle during the Weimar Republic, Lasker-Schüler fled to Jerusalem in 1934.

The poem, originally published in 1910, is in the public domain.
Westley Barnes Oct 2018
The happy shouts from the playground display
the jumps and twists that brought them
by sun that steals the chill away
This unexpected autumn.

The trees that give their leaves away
to the breeze that walks between them
Their boughs are hung majestically
grant hopes as gifts to dream with.

The river’s flow, The dangling rose
The barking dog’s bright welcome
A moment’s pause, to photograph
these scenes
should memory forget them.

Such worry thoughts face as evening strays,
on mistakes past and unproven
What paradox, then, to bring mind at ease
watching the late sky fires of autumn.
Written for International Poetry Day 2018. 04/10/18
Westley Barnes May 2018
Roth was a great lover of music

Old-timely big band show times that evoked memories in living rooms across white America
Provoking melancholia for what was assumed lost.

He was a master of writing technicalities
Knew the stitchings in a pair of men's brown leather driving gloves
Like they were poetic metre
Knew the nervy velocity attended to the beating of a heart through a stethoscope .

He wrote more novels that can be read in most lifetimes
As he had five different versions of himself to think through.

He wrote half a novel in the voice of an actual ex- lover

He was not particularly good at writing women.

He was unsurprisingly/surprisingly good at writing about the realities of race.  

He often cared little for reality
but could tautly pierce at the authenticity to be found
in "social realism."

He wrote standing up
Cried that novel was dead when really he was dying
He was both acutely aware and ignorant of this
He will be buried outside of Newark, presumably.

His career trajectory is unique in American letters in that it crystallized the vogue for American letters, ****** up the body, peaked and troughs with death, surveyed the end of American Innocence over four decades and closed at a summer camp.

His themes, in that order : Heartache, ***, Motherlove, Therapy, Body Horror, Satire, Egomania, , father hunger, Death, the state of the nation, regret, race, life inside the academy,fascist media darlings, liberal terrorists destroying their family narratives,Death again, old ***, absolute suicide in words, adolescence.
Philip Roth (1933-2018)
Westley Barnes Apr 2018
In places underneath or between the rain
Blossoms are budding, suffuse with stalking light
Until the evening drags off towards
a slow, easy death
Each hour an ending in itself, reflected against premonitions of waning chance.

This curse of a spring, supplementing
calm for action, cautions a new spirit of resilience
in, taking with it the attraction of deference
Like the waves that crash at the shipping bay
Now, all is circumstance

I read the newsfeed everyday
as a means of counting against this stifling reassurance.
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