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Westley Barnes Jan 2020
On the day before the UK is finally left to go **** itself

I watch a politely forced interview in my British front room

David Cameron is looking like he's just come after dropping a bomb of Molly

The only kind of bomb he'll ever be allowed drop again what

And I start almost to feel bad for him

The way I've felt bad about all the other poor ******* who get a whoosh too quickly

And start rambling all sensitive and vulnerable and so ****** sincere

But then I remember I shouldn't feel sorry for him at all

Because when you **** it and it's your idea you're supposed to stay home and try not talk to anyone you know

Not talk to the BBC about how you're still surprised you ****** it

But you respect those you took advantage of your naievity and schoolboy ambition

His eyes are like what you see staring one-eyed into a half empty bottle of stout, lads


The EU have been like the kindest hotel managers

Who are trying to allow some deviant family who've wrecked their best rooms

Away to to the police with some last shred of human dignity

Because they know they are killing their children

There's a song that mentions a man standing waiting for a train
On a particularly English rainy summer day
By a minor band with good players
That would get my mother excited
If it was played on the golden oldies radio slot

It would even get my mother excited when she heard
Even it was arguably "depressing"
Because it reminded her of being young and disillusioned
And it sounded cutting edge and new
It was the sound of the future then
In the nationalist wasteland of early 1981
And the double tracked vocals sang "We Fade to Grey"

I write this, not wandering into the cinder zone of Hiroshima
But just sitting half-prostrate on the sofa of my tastefully European inspired British front room
Not as a warning to the world, but as a half-arsed lament for a world out of warnings.
Visage-Fade to Grey (1981)
Westley Barnes Oct 2019
You appeared to me during the mind's violence
That presents itself as the diving board of sleep in witching hours
More a hologram outside the boundaries of life's time than any dream

First an oversized playing card
Dappled in dripping black ink
Showing a landscape of Auschwitz, or
Perhaps, in another interpretation,
A spillage of flavoured stout
Then diluting, white light through the macabre, unmistakably into you
With those analysing , innocent eyes
And that lopsided smirk

Standing as if to guard yourself against the approaches of some other beyond me
While fixing back your gaze to say you find me here, aligned, knowing, persevering with you
And the image distorted and a strange throb of silence shrieked through your body,
dream-plunging severely alert to the Oracle assuming your intrusion
And the spokes in in my head an accelerated
Fluth Fluth Fluth Fluth

Even in mid-dreaming I dreaded for you
Expected you dead or in unstable danger
What else could this mean?

Some obvious code communication relatable to the Gothic novels you wrote about?
Sensitive as you were, now their subterfuge of a warning collision provoking a Countess of undistracted night,
A sage of burning, mottled thought
Hair ravaged black where before its black spoke of a sylvan birthright
Now gorged, destabalized somewhere in memory

I can't know why I half dream a scene like this, but it has happened somewhere else


In a different bedroom. Possibly overmedicated.
My 15 year-old self, thinking I should try attempt writing in the voices of the dead.
Then later, when finally to succumbing to the yellowing fog of a dream
I appeared to see two girls, roughly my age if not a little older
Seated gaslight on a black couch different to the one in that room
Hair streaked blond & the other Auburn, I think, both in tights & skirts darkened as their leather seats
And the blond was saying "he thinks he can hear us now.
He must think he's brave."
Before I was ripped into a deeper haze, the image evaporating, but this one's fade more of a silent

As if they needed me to be quiet.


I'm not sure why I have been placed in the midst of these disappeared & disappearing women
Taken to drowning or crude burial or just forgetfulness, distance
Maybe the key thing really. Years, eras.
Sometimes it's the work that finds you, rather than you finding the work.

I extrapolate. I bore into what was thought dust. Glass filaments, old rumour mistaken on the wind, tables discounted elements. These are what I seek, after being intruded in dreams.

The perfume smell embedded in a boxed up scarf, motive.
Westley Barnes Jun 2019
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
Westley Barnes Apr 2019
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 an 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
Westley Barnes Jan 2019
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

“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
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