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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.
Westley Barnes Jan 2018
This is the fourth time it's happened this winter
The fire is sparking
("Put on another log to dull the flames")
The wind, whipping up chaos outside, conspires with the moon
to plaster open our eyes, and
tangoes with the red of the streetlight to foreground the terror, the dramatic pull to this scene like the beginning of a barfight.
But all you notice is the snow.

Captivating Slush, like the wondrous stupid glow of children's television
("Close the door quickly, it's below zero outside!")
My chest wakes up to the sleeky bitterness of it, gentle but rousing,
like the critique of a crush taunting the back of your neck, but in reverse.

You've said that last line, and it's the response of everyone who can't savor what they most anticipate, the arrival of the thing itself cast aside for something mundane like safety.
The thing itself for you is watching snow,
and now you gladly push it away.

Life is so unpredictable, yet so callously routine.
To live in seasons is to be constantly surprised at things exactly how you've seen them before.
It's not emotions that frighten us, emotions are hand-me downs, the old favourite band t-shirts of experience, often ones we've worn before.
It's the feelings that surround emotion that we shunt out, that we tipex over in our journals of memory, our synaptic splints.
The tears of children who never turn back
to confront their tormentor with their tears.

And so now I'm walking upstairs as a means of brushing off these notions
("For the love of ... make sure the bathroom window is closed")
And I check my phone while debating how to spend the rest of my evening engaging with my phone while you rewarch American sitcoms, so cosy, your contentment as reliable as Irish wind
Then I sigh and look out the Bauhaus insulting bedroom window
Again I see the circus coloured tarpit the weather has made of our street
And wait a minute, trying not to feel anything
Because this is the fourth time this has happened
This year.
Westley Barnes Oct 2017
Our urban commutes are punchlines without any stories. Climb out, rinse, release, restrain, converse, intuit, insert, recharge. Why narrate?
I used to talk to God a lot when I was very young, never a ******* word back. Just strange developments ;
the family life taking unexpected detours into anger and occassional uprorious joys at Christmasses,
that sort of thing.
Amidst all the second guessing that real pursuing sense of lonliness,
at quiet moments of the day, particularly when outdoors.

You think you can stuff everything that's inside of you into a plastic bag,
it doesn't work like that.
The wind blows open memories at unexpected traffic intervals, but it really hasn't gotten anything to do with nature. Memories are just like the wind.
Westley Barnes Sep 2017
First morninglight through windowpane
falls to kiss
the carpet, our front garden’s Clarkia
left no trace of last
night’s condensed mist.

Is there happiness enough
to fill these rooms, or
could there ever be?
Like the relief that echoes
through living rooms on Christmas
noons, like the smile rising from a voice
at the suggestion of “Tea?”

Will the cosy silence play
to win out the crowd’s
lament? Will the dinnertime rustle
deliver imagination out from under
time's sway?

Do these questions sound like
asking the weight of water?
A cup of late youth’s innocence
to be drenched with irony,
pity’s daughter?

The home to while the world away, where to
process life’s refinery

A well-made plot that shuns
a twist.

A dry-witted author
Whose lust is the mundane.
Westley Barnes Jul 2017
That weekend
When we reached the lake house
After it had rained enough to fill
The floodbanks for an entire decade
Do you rememember...
what it was like?

To walk down the footpath dissected by brambles
And see the fog surround the land
And those first moments
So wonderfully calm

It was if we had found a minnowing horse
We once thought was wild

Seeing into the eyes of it,
We stayed for a whole week
Every day so different from the weeks that came before
Yet every day we felt absolutely settled
in that place.

The past recedes
Into memory
That is all we are capable of.
Still, all the same
We never fail to remember
the past emerging
an old punchline
Only half forgotten.
Westley Barnes Apr 2017
Though you've barely had a ramble
are no wayward canine daddy of note
that brief encounter in our brambles
has left the experts fearing a cancerous growth

So we starve you of your pine nuts and bacon rinds
so we can feed you anaesthetic
and betray you to the thief of time
only to make you, I imagine, feel pathetic
And you often so full of life's exasperate scurry

I worry
will the shine stray from your eyes
those hazel pools of so much of
my feeling mature, just for
pertaining to a creature's care

 we all seem in too much of a hurry
to stifle what little spirit
that surrounds us
to wear
down on every minor aspect
of childish delight
in this silent sacrament
of the aging process
and with arguably years
of your fatherhood left
in the very ***** some dry eyed savant
decides it correct we should tamper with

Tomorrow I will snuggle you in favoured, bouncy eiderdowns
that will blanket your unknowing
and treat you as if
you were an eastering child
on cured hams and other saltiness
after you awaken
from those strangest enforcements of sleep
and through our eyes we will trade more secrets to keep

And we will hope, as we only can, that it was for the best
For you, Yorkshire's son, or Sheringham's
And consider with all of your
exhuming breath
That we meddled, stilling over life
To cheat a slightly delayed death.
This poem was written on the occasion of the final night of my Yorkshire Terrier's non-emasculated, non-nuetured  era. Even in his soon to be state of infertility, I doubt we will ever see his like again, as you can't recreate perfection.
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