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Jan 2020 · 209
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)
Oct 2019 · 272
Night Callers
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.
Jun 2019 · 312
Lessons From Any Art
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
Apr 2019 · 577
The Sorrow
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
Jan 2019 · 1.5k
Acting Up
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.
Oct 2018 · 400
Unexpected Autumn
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
May 2018 · 272
Roth Rests
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)
Apr 2018 · 566
Curse of A Spring
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.
Jan 2018 · 929
Temp. Drop
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.
Oct 2017 · 498
The Virtuoso Icebreaker
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.
Sep 2017 · 557
A Pastoral Scene
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.
Jul 2017 · 471
The Lake House
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.
Apr 2017 · 5.3k
Stilled Life
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.
Westley Barnes Apr 2017
Can you call out to the night
in a voice that
reminds me of innocent days?
Where often I
appreciated the sunlight's grin
as likewise I did your own, and exclaimed
my surprise at the late evening's
chill, a breeze milder, really,
than any touch of hands
that knowingly await
their bodies' compromise.

I sing of a frankness lightened by
a cherished voice's warm reprieve
which follows in tuneful  
adept time.

Mournful as that time without you
being spent half in memory
And yet still
courting bliss.

These petals that transfix
the passagemakers of this city
when falling they touch ground
markers of these
Labrythhine stowaway quarters
Petals that are eyes open on a map
offering views restricted by
Their very habit
of spreading across.

These watching fellows are not
but could be
cherry blossoms whose
sudden appearance
wakes up students
on elevated trams
They are not
the spires of those finest, sun cracked churches
but they could induce the
same inspiring awe as though
they were crystallised, white on black,
boughs that made the roses of this land
appear washed out
like bleached hair
after a shower.

A downpour begins, and as
gracefully passes over
by you turning toward
our balcony window
as if hearing the songs of
The night call back to you.

Calling all the city's secrets
only rumours
Simply songs for worrying Lovers
Lovers who should trouble only to remember songs
and let voices, floating rise
Some of the imagery inspired by this song came out of watching Spike Jonze's film "Her." (2013) Though a lot more of it came out of a recent trip to Venice, and there's even some Zurich in there too.
Mar 2017 · 922
Mothering Sunday
Westley Barnes Mar 2017
Thousands of cards are opened
in hundreds of rooms

And the wine is uncorked
a little earlier than usual

And everybody talks to one another
for once

And smiles captured through words
cover and hide the awkward ****
of sadness
That rises, like a cold,
on the flesh.
"Mothering Sunday" was the traditional name given to Mothers Day in Britain.
Nov 2016 · 577
Winter Valentine
Westley Barnes Nov 2016
Roses announce the bedroom clipped from your thought
dilapidated vintage chandelier shakes with light
we might as well make the moment
when it's that cold outside
the mirror glimpses angles that escape our eyes

Daybreak child
would you be my sleepy wonder?
consumed with life

Grey bleeding into blue eyes  shock gives way to wonder
ertswhile Goddess of the night

My angry words have taken the violent locomotive
of the words that fill the books upon your shelf
but that was before
Now lilacs mute the bedlace
the wall's painted sea is our sky

Would you believe all those things I never tell you
or would you spit their underhandedness right back at me?

Mock turtle rhymes the sound your mouth makes when you're giddy
moves lies a breaking sundial
Fingers that are off-white feel to the touch like a promise
Now you're a plate spinning on it's side.
Westley Barnes Oct 2016
About 4 years into the friendship, or whatever it had by that stage become, during a chat on our Internet **** preferences
over badly-filtered Americanos
in the UCD student cafe, I said to her
" I think I enjoyed our friendship more when we used to get coffee and just laugh for twenty minutes. "
And after a half second of unusual silence from her, those pools
of ever-renewing blue eyes of hers almost incisions
into my consciousness, I added" That was pretty unique."
And then I laughed unbound, and she almost shrugged
and definitely smirked as if to say "this is where I am now, it took some time for me to realise but it's where I've always been."
Unapologetic, as only she could seem to be.

And it was, like any tryst, fling or abandoned half-romance is, utterly unique. Half on the way
to becoming something we were going to hang on to and definitely regret
and half-stopped, sulking out of a puddle,
dead damp weight created by the differences we made ourselves
for the other to behold and dismantle.
The immediate was meant for us, first the attraction, then the disgust, then the despair, then the cursing off, then round to the intrigue all over again.
She remained the great question mark of my undergraduate years. Heartaches after her were equally demeaning, but far more easily explained.

You know you've found someone irreplaceable when they tell things you really shouldn't know,
things shoved up in boxes for years, things too unformed to be really caught sounding out, in the moments after your first kiss.
And every clever undergraduate will tell you how negative all connotations of "irreplaceable" are.

And yet these are the backhanded good graces,
the immeasurable gifts that memory serves
I wear this like a wound I can find wry mirth at the very sight of,
I have learned all this from her without her ever intending
These memories are indented in a music box with an imitation sacred heart all mine
distempered by the candid lines of a girl who never wanted religion, divulged somewhere in our seat of learning.
Westley Barnes Sep 2016
Immaculate Breakfast

I should congratulate myself on choosing the Raisin stuffed and Lemon Drizzle Scones
Who else would?
Spill the milk gently into granola and berry cereal
And an Immaculate breakfast is laid out in front of me
Like a pastoral English farm valley disturbed by thunder in a Turner painting
Which makes you consider how the sunset depicted must have occurred on a Sunday and
you can almost hear the firebrand puritanical country church sermon that was lanced unto the congregation that morning.
But the sun's high and full of itself here-urban nature's reliable humblebrag.

Underwhelming Work Routine

The reason I doublebag tea -most apparent in its amber hue before the whisker of a milkdrop eases the cannonroll
Is that I need to be aware
Of my shortcomings-personal, financial, strategical, spinal, ******, lexical
While typing out this or the next sentence on a screen that could really do with some Mr Clean
-A line that sounded like it made far more sense in my head
A head that is probably in need of a good dose of Ms Benzedrine
A dilemma which lays the foundations of an oft shoddy, disingenuous, misappropriated, underwhelming work routine.

Oh, the work gets completed
just with far more of an effort and
far less of the breezy confidant
self-satisfaction than I originally intended.
And the tea needs to keep me awake
or else I would daydream restlessly, evoking
rats in cages who make political decisions and far away destinations where
I can at last make my life
completely redundant, or, whisper it, a success.

But that's the great kicker of working life, isn't it?
You make a meal out of the easy stuff
And wish the good bits didn't capture people's attention.
Jul 2016 · 733
Westley Barnes Jul 2016
The sound of a car alarm,
"Detonating" might not sound inappropriate
Like waking into a fight that's
kicking off-
on Sunday mornings.

This is the realisation
Of how the world intrudes
Of how the the inner sanctum
is detached from the private self.

Car alarms -the drones of greater Western suburbia.

How are we expected to be overwhelmed by life
When we desire all the apps and whistles
Of electronic distraction
to keep our heart rates
Steadily rising?

Seeing a jettisoned supermarket trolley
Abandoned in a riverbed
Close to a church whose peak attendance
Occurs at summer weddings
Explains more about the human capacity for tragedy
Than most schloarly texts on Greek Drama

Surely this the curse of socities who best express sentiments through images?
The ability to make exhibitions out of emotions, of replaying journeys
Without speaking words
Somewhere a girl runs away from home
Somewhere else a boys runs to his bedroom

And even the streetlights betrayed with shattered glass
Make the sound of thunderstorms
on warm evenings.
The moon too bright to decipher as a circle
with unshielded eyes.
May 2016 · 682
Westley Barnes May 2016
The only natural poem I have consciously been involved in-
The site, not just the reporting-
was when I happened upon a sheep gazing at me
in a field immediately off a motorway in Norwich.

This was not planned, yet it was
disconcertingly poetic.

Life whispers it's potentialities, it's immovable eros
the way billboards make us aware of our melancholia.

"Your hair is flaxen"
No, your hair is just damp. "Flaxen" reminds
us of a language that according our reading of poetry
existed long before our ancestors could read.
It does, however, sound more complimentary,
therefore more sincere,
therefore more comforting
than "damp."

I wear all my pretentious vocabulary and sentimental heart-stirrings
like a cross dangling from my neck
pretty as the plastic emotions I express
Because of my dearth of enthusiasm as opposed to experience
Because of the transparency of my speaking without first attuning
to the spectre of blood which no longer clots my lungs Dominika
but now sullies my hands.

But I wash and wash, and am clean, cleaner than most.
And my cleanliness infuriates you Dominika,
it breaks your back to see me so elevated among the wrecks.
When you speak there is no air that leaves your lungs to pollute the air
there are all only words whose sounds make the other sounds commonplace.
Whereas I am all white, brilliant, brutal air.

I've calculated the effect this has on your sense of self
Dominika, of your progress, of your place in the narrative
and though you hate me for implying so if I explained
You wouldn't understand
I made it that way.
Apr 2016 · 816
Anecdote after Rain
Westley Barnes Apr 2016
Lovely thoughts are shackles.
They invoke what even the microscope
omits from the commentary
Well-prepared cups of tea on Sunday afternoons
The dragging of fountain pens retracing ornate loops.

Each a relief from the threat of whatever crisis interred
by the quiet of a room
The practical, the indulgent, without progression.

The contemporary pastoral
is to be found
Amongst old boxes
of  boy's adventure paperbacks
and girl's glitterworn and broken hairbrushes
Shooting the mind off to tragedies
whirring still away at even further distances.

Memories, like sentiments
when copacetic
Provoking always the invasive link
the dependent, the pathetic.

A picture of a doomed ship in storm
Hung on the red carpeted wall of a restaurant

A jar of olives
left untouched
for decorative purposes
in the old grain store
which now serves unfiltered coffee
and plays loud but pleasing music
'til 6 p.m.

What I have spoken of are McGuffins.
The mind distracts.
Yes, the mind encounters,
we discover, we make lists.
But if you can remember
minutiae, try then to remember
History is the repetition of revelations.
The reel does not cut off.

In short,
don't congratulate
Yourself about life
until you've at least seen the nursing home.
Well Intentioned Glossary
Pastoral-a work of literature portraying an idealised version of country life.
Copacetic-in excellent order, pleasingly consensual.
McGuffins-In fiction, a McGuffin (sometimes MacGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation.
Mar 2016 · 659
Breathe This Day
Westley Barnes Mar 2016
Let the morning's light bell ring
because it is the bell of days
that leads, leery, into other days
All the time making tired weary
or still smiling from a dream.

Call the churchbell to then ring out also
The master of hours , It's spring concerto
for life is song with lung fulls or whispers
reaching behind ears, that strangely echo

May everything you touch be smooth and calm enough
this mourning ; no chills, no blisters
No untimely words that bring the scare of mortality
May the ones you love go on loving
Not dreaded out of by life's chaotic meanderings
Breathe this day, bring to yourself the sense of wonder
that Miranda to The Tempest brings
Only clocks, after all, measure out wanderings
Not footfall, maps, forgotten as carelessly as good fortune.

Because light does fade: even the moon's light
Captivating for a few forgettable moments to replaced
By the the realities of night
Of unspoken humour and desires in darkened rooms.

So if you cough, cough out only the disapproval of yesterday
which today does without.
And out, and, and in, and out
Triplets followed by a last diminished chord.
I wrote this poem on the occasion of International Poetry Day, 2016.
Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, island magician of Shakespeare's The Tempest, first performed in 1611.
Mar 2016 · 1.8k
Dream Triptych-Winter 2015
Westley Barnes Mar 2016
Each time I attempt to conclude
this equation,
I arrive at the same intersection of doubt,
as if fate sees me coming.

1) Highway ****** Crash
2) The Evasive Goings-on in The Puppy Court
3) A Picture of Susan Howe in a Man's Grey Overcoat

These sequences of event all appeared to me in dreams. The same dream, repeated, over a succession of winter nights. The first few sober, the last an alert blur, wherein the images seemed to make the most sense.

All I can be assured of is this:
because the police officer in the dream was a police officer
Not a garda síochana or police inspector
the dream was definitely set in one of the Midwest United States
where I've never been, yet oddly interests me more than Canada,
where the same applies. It was definitely  freezing
(perhaps the blanket had been pulled off me in sleep?)
and the police officer definitely spoke English and said
"Highway" Hence: American.

The first night the dream arrived
It was that time of year when the night sky
subtly tricks you into believing that
morning is imminently about to break.

Those nights
A reminder that nature
was the first coy tease of suspended disbelief
the first pay-per-view special that took its time
getting going and then ended all too soon.

Two trucks had split in two a mid-size saloon-
That was the first of the dream's episodes-
But a voice arrived like a roll call of ice before an avalanche
-whispering that it was "a setup"-
which I presumed meant "collusion."
So I had a ******, at hand, in my dream-
speaking to the mustachioed Midwestern police detective afterwards-
as mutually understanding as if we had been in the same all-boys Catholic secondary school.
He had the suspects-so we then presided unto-


Which was-yes, a court whose racial make-up consisted of young Dogs-
(This being a dream ; Dreams which are often the dictionary definition of Surreal and often don't mean anything)
The more I consider it, the Puppies were also most likely Puppets
Acted out by humans who had fists shoved up their *****.
Perhaps this court was a speculative court-it was, most certainly,
A "Kangaroo" court
With no justice being presided over, as such.
Heckles sounded throughout most of the exhibits,
A sternly yapping Yorkshire Terrier banged the gavel to no avail-
He was consistently rudely interrupted by a cocksure Golden Retriever-
who seemed to have as his boyos most of the bench and the jurors.
I never did find out who was responsible
for the horrific collision that spelled the end for the saloon driver,
as at this point I would usually exit the court in disgust
and for some reason found myself reading a poem in front of
an audience of one-
the acclaimed Irish-American L=A=N==G=U=A=G=E (that's how they spell it..) poet Susan Howe.

Yes, she was indeed wearing a Man's gray Overcoat
Resembling herself in the picture I held in my hand
Next to my own text
And as I looked toward her
The room's low lighting seem to reflect
the sparse "Black and White" filter of the photograph
and she was also wearing what looked like
the same Man's gray (Houndstooth maybe?
She Looked ALL filtered through "Black and White")

So the intention seemed to be that I was reading,
or perhaps presenting, maybe even pitching?
to Susan Howe. ("And how!"-might have been the before-or-after gag I might have used to anyone who new how it was going to go or how it happened-what gamey fun, these puns be...)
Susan looked on with penitence, as if prematurely unimpressed...
I look down to the poem I was expecting myself to read, and realised...
why the ******* did I choose that?

It was a poem I had written several years ago (well, if several means seven, lets say six)
Its subject was a young Canadian (possible Motorway Crash Link? Perhaps I misremembered her as midwestern?..) Muslim student whom I had shared a class on Hellenistic philosophy with back in the first or second year of my undergrad in Dublin (oh the hedonistic, sunsplashed, affordable Dublin of those days) and whom I had shared a flirtatious rapport with, innocent enough of course but always backdropped by a underscored leitmotif that instilled the threat of a problematic outcome across religious and possibly less so cultural divides


Nevertheless, she laughed at my jokes and self-deprecation and would squeeze my arm tightly when particularly amused , would hug me enthusiastically at the end of every class and although I never saw the full profile of her under that headscarf her ****** features Vogue beach fashion shoot stunning and after the module ended I never saw her again oh but how rare and strangely puritanical the lust...

Regardless, the poem began as such:

A Stir in Yemen/ must have been the catalyst for the smokey condensation/ in your gaze/ the mocha swirl in your pupils/ and the vex in your smile/ alluding to double meanings/innuendo that treads together like an Ernst canvas/ a blessed triptych/thrillingly

This poem was typed onto a model of Nokia phone which I have been made aware has since gone out of fashion, like it's producer.

Max Ernst-the surrealist painter, of course. A manual in style for most of us.

In response to my reading, Susan Howe merely nodded silently, seemingly all knowingly, as if she had thought the poem written for her or contained an interpretation that I had unintended (or, if asked by the real-life Susan Howe, would pretend to have intended all along.)

And there the Dream Triptych always ended.

As I said at the beginning I dreamt it twice more that same week, once intoxicated. It always followed the same sequence, and I don't read books on dreams so I have no idea what it meant, why it had three distinct parts or whether if most likely it was all a bit of nonsense. But at least it was INTERESTING.

Make the rest up for yourself.
Jan 2016 · 952
Westley Barnes Jan 2016
Last night
We dreamt of subtle imperfections
But were awakened to greater truths
Last night
We scratched with the skin of porcupines
Our breaths reflecting ice
Last night
Dashing out our fears
We heralded the end of youth
Last night
I swore I saw some of the old flicker
Tempt me in your eyes
Before, again-it up and left.

And Time
Only holds true
to the fashioning
and smoking of a cigarette.
For David Bowie (1947-2016)
Sep 2015 · 741
Westley Barnes Sep 2015
Ever since I’ve been a child
I thought the old dead painters
painted the sky.

Coffee cream on Nursery wall blue
stretched out like souls on a
recently ***** dinnerplate.
No planes cutting between them
up there because I’m still watching
from the middle of the green where I lived.

An older version of myself
-in an attempt to dazzle-
while describing an evening sky
might have written “chiaroscuro”
…but for now I’ll stick with “skidding”
as an allusion to the colours I’m seeing
that mark the surface of the clouds
“Like paintings in a museum.”

The way they’re “so far up but floating even farther away.”

Serious and untouchable and content
the keepers of dreams
adrift in the biggest sea of all
which is the sky.

-Westley Barnes.
Jul 2015 · 1.3k
Mancave of Forgotten Dreams
Westley Barnes Jul 2015
Fragmented embers of the evening light casting shadows on
the outline of your preferred wanking pants.

Rathmines all blue and black outside
with stern encroaching trees reminding
of your parents
(and what they might be expecting to do now, as opposed
to what you're doing)
encircling empty Doritos packets submissive to
console lights ever glowing
Stacked shores of ruin against life's pursuing

And mocking you in  the corner
The amp that laid echoes to a thousand bands
thought of that never were.
Figurehead of a thousand conversations that led to kisses
never so sweet as those felt and remembered
in this dungeon of worn out ego and instilled fear.

Home to one hundred nights of solitude
sans reprieve or want of care
with the stench of student bachelor
left hanging in the air.
Jun 2015 · 2.1k
Adventures in Storytelling
Westley Barnes Jun 2015
So the lads decided to head down the town one day
(it bein' a great stretch of sun, especially for here,
and playin' Fifa tournaments and
actin' smart were losin' their charm)
Miles had his eye on this young one, and Giro and Hooper
bein' the friends they were riled him up no end about
what he was goin' to do once he got his chance with her, y'know, the usual stupid teenage macho lad crap.
But sure, poor auld Miles, as he was back then, was a sensitive sort
and although he was the handsomest of the chaps at that stage
-with the boyband cheekbones and
the butter-wouldn't melt bring-me-home-to-your-mammy-she'll-think-I'm-Lovely exterior-
he was just a bit too shy to get taking to her in the square that day,
the two of 'em were both awkwardly just sat on opposite benches
with their eyelashes flutterin' in the wind.
And sure didn't the boys make a holy show o'the chap by shoutin' "D'YOU WANT TO SHIFT HIS FRIENDS" at the young one's mates, and them visibly horrified,
with the precious stuck-up Loreto girls' mouths dropped in mortification.

They were somethin' else back then, alright.

But here's the thing,
He's marrying that girl next weekend. (-The same one?) (-Hardly?!)
Swear on me Granny's grave, got sent the invitation on Facebook and all!
Meself and Tracy are goin' to it, obviously, but I barely seen the chap since he moved up to Dublin that time, but the girl is friend's with Tracy's cousin.
Danielle is her name, she works as a graphic designer.

(-She designs games?) (-No, ads, posters and stuff, you ****)
(-Well, I extend my heartfelt apologies
to Mr. CAO himself over here)
(-G'way you, the last time you heard tell of the CAO
was when  you used it as a farewell greeting to
the sub-teacher you fancied when you
handed in your pass maths exam.)
(-What's he doin' again?) (-He works in KPMG)
(-...Sorry I asked)

Apparently they had lost track of each other, but then randomly met out one night and rekindled the old flame. (-what, the old premature pubescent horn?)
My point is, doucher, that you cant keep a good man down...not the greatest choice of words given the context, but, y'know,
fair ******' play to him anyway.

On the other hand, I saw Giro in Mooney's there last weekend,
back from Canada after only six months over there.
Hated it apparently, plasterin' walls in a city that was
only bein' built up for the first time, nothin' to do on the weekend
but drink **** beer and go fishin'.  I told him he should have gone
to Vancouver but he wanted to head where Hooper was goin'
-Those two were always the same, they'd manage to waste each others time if they got to the moon.

There Giro was, all he got to show for himself for goin' to Canada
was a flannel shirt, a snapback hat and a beard like one of those
grizzly lads from gay ****. (-What would you know about gay ****?) (It's an metaphor, genius, I don't need to know anythin' about it in order to make the connection.)
(-Sounds like the only expert piece of information you've given it all night) (-Here, your Da hates ya, go home)

But I suppose, at least a lad like Giro, totally directionless, still has the ability to laugh about himself.
He'd say worse things about himself that I would and laugh away at it, no bother.
But that's it, isn't it? Being able to laugh at the lads and at yourself when you deserve it, to own up to your flaws and forgive them.
That's what it's all about.
Fifa=Official Computer Game of the world Football association,
Giro=Bank giro, often synonymous with social welfare benefits in Ireland.
Shift=Irish slang to kiss passionately, in the casual sense. See also British Snog, US Necking.
Loreto=Loreto Convent, a network of Roman Catholic single-*** Girls' schools in Ireland founded by Loreto nuns. Regarded as instilling a high level of social propriety in their students.
CAO=College Application Form. Official form of entry into Irish Colleges and Universities, mirrors slightly the US SAT and British A-Level methods.
Jan 2015 · 520
Flash 25/1/15
Westley Barnes Jan 2015
I thought about the best way I could have acted
Speaking over the TV
Lying back STRAIGHT over the sofa
Just when Dad came home

Instead when he asked me how school was
I only mumbled "good' and headed into my room
to play The Clash CD I had gotten at the library
and sat alone on my bed until dinner
Even though I know he likes that band.

It's the pieces of the best thoughts I have
that fail to come together
Just when things start to happen
and the panic sets in.
Written during a workshop with slam poet/MC Temperamental MissElaynious .
The group was discussing the issues of confidence and identity, I used some feint memories from my own childhood to examine the ideas of difficulties of communication and image- trigger symbolism by using child-like language and syntax. Something different for me.
Dec 2014 · 1.8k
Westley Barnes Dec 2014
Blood felt in a caress
Was the last gift of love I sent you home with.
My thoughts gently clinging to the curled ends
of your hair.
The moon bright as a baby's skin
The wind from the sea leaving nothing untouched

I could think of a Springsteen lyric
but this isn't the summer
and my clothes cling too tightly
To this body which I intend only to please you.

I think instead of a friend telling me of a power-out
When he lived in a minor Chinese mainland city of seven or 8 million
And how all he could see for  miles around for an entire week afterwards
was smog.
And I contrast that
With when in the relatively far west of this tiny island
We stood laughing in wonder at how the stars hung so closely down on us
And how smog is all that fills my head
When I try to remember words you use
When you speak of the moon.
Oct 2014 · 1.5k
Westley Barnes Oct 2014
When you die
People you will have never met
will give your family condolences

When you die
Spurned former lovers will
send delicate flowers

When you die
People will be summoned to
make you look beautiful

The way that you felt on nights
you enjoyed being yourself the most

When you die
Cautious children will cry
without ever learning
of your conflicting views on children

When you die
They might hang the church wall
with pictures of weddings
and graduations

When you die
You may not be alone

When you die
You might be the first and
the others will all follow

Having made no preparations of their own.

When you die
They might play your favorite song
or they might play a more "appropriate" song
as they lead you away
and some people will be scolding themselves
about forgetting where they parked

When you die
They may have forgotten that you didn't
believe in the afterlife
Quotations from Leviticus notwithstanding

When you die
You could be the the one who made
the most important impact on your daughter or son's life
You might have their life worth living

When you die
It may be to no applause

When you die
It may inspire your mother's gynecologist
to visit a church for the first time in almost half a decade
and feel genuine empathy for the rituals of human dignity
regardless of the tribe

When you die
none of your siblings may attend
the rain might pore on your last parade
and people might go home early

When you die
Everybody may just have a great time
heads beaming, shoulders high

When you die
It might be the longest day of Summer
with waterfights in the park near you were born.

When you die
You will have lived to see
all your ambitions come alive
Even if that penpusher "Reality"
explicitly states otherwise.
Persephone in Greek mythology is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and is queen of Hades, the underworld.
Legend has it that her mother went to Hades to try and persuade her to return to Mount Olympus, with no success.
Sep 2014 · 837
Unwarranted Calm
Westley Barnes Sep 2014
The insurance company billboard sign
That lords above my head
As I walk past the flats
Proudly sings of

    "NO FEAR

Yet last night the pretty lady
On Yesterday's six O'Clock news
Told me how Putin is plotting World War Three

Under the Dartline
The supermarket corporation
Urges Dublin to


While across the road
A man was car-rammed and then shot
Outside Luigi's takeaway
While we slept nearby

The world is an unpredictable
And ever more lonely place
No one pays to disperse that knowledge
Thus earned is rarely desired

I'm done with lullabies
I'm finished of singing you to sleep

Because your dreams
Won't provide you with the same solace
Jul 2014 · 1.0k
Westley Barnes Jul 2014
had thrown a cassette
of Therapy?'s "Troublegum"
its nicotine-hued tape
mangled like the innards of
a gutted fish, or
so many sprayed limbs
in a crowded car pile-up
-decorating the bare branches
of the winter-stricken trees
which lay beyond the barbed wire fence
that separated the state-supported
and architecturally sound
playground facade of the solitary concrete grounds
-with empty swings-
of our mixed gender primary school
of 200 plus students (whom were
referred to as "pupils"-which reminded me
too much of eyes, but children are all eyes, aren't they?
With golden-hued irises, who seem to remember

Who had thrown it there?
Smashing all the angst-sodden, ripped guitar reverberations
-the fruits of a few individuals hard grasp and compromise, toiled out through a probable number of significant years-
that had lurked inside?
Why that gesture and why in that place?
Perhaps it had been the jettisoned request
of some clandestine love affair
(ephemerality also lays claims to gifts, to its plural gesture)
or, maybe in a more obviously classical mode,
it was only the result
of a bored friend who cared little for the music
or the efforts behind its delivery?

Whatever the reason,
its one of a handful of memories
that have stayed with me
when my thoughts strayed back to that school
(mostly without an intended purpose).

Also, across the same wasteland
there were assembled corrugated shacks
lined in front of back-garden walls
strewn with illegible graffiti
anticipating the waning rave culture
where we supposed-and were frightened by the thought-
that were the hang-outs of Drug users (AIDS was still a topic then)
and Pedophiles.

But then again,
we never tried to find out.
Therapy? are a Post-Punk (early-career) / Pop-Punk/Metal (-present day) band from Northern Ireland. "Troublegum"-their most commercially successful album- was released in 1994.
The image from this poem dates from 3/4 years after the album's release.
Jul 2014 · 1.4k
Westley Barnes Jul 2014
This home is becoming
Like a weathermast of the soul
Beaten into responding silence.

To awaken here again
And to only wear this armour
As a riposte sufficient to self-assurance
And to rise, out of lazy eyelids and
Consider the opposing wind turrets
Laid as the proposition
All slack and starkly
Poised on the trapeze

The wallpaper durability of family headaches ;
The spurned lover's recurring luminosity
The marked and re-imagined lists
Detailing personal no-shows and defeats
Bookended by
The passing on of friendly eyes.

Assuming the universal, and in doing so, blindly holding out for the miracle :
For falling out of love is completely plausible
Whereas letting go of shame is mostly incomprehensible
Jun 2014 · 1.4k
After Hanging The Wreath
Westley Barnes Jun 2014
Regret is not
The fleeting deferral of
some brief romance
Regret is
the inability to react
to the irreversible moment
of something created
slipping away

(My boy Jamie being led
  into that bitter cold by
  a hand that should have
  been none
  but my own)
faded pulpit dark and
winter noon grey
are but the same as
extinguishing candles
to mark , instead , what
could have been done
for the world

(I thought they were better off
being together
with their own kind
so I used to hurry past
them waiting for the trains
their children tidy and
smiling, nevertheless)

And the Angelus bell
will continue to ring
long after we all rot.
And the ghosts we share
will take all but their
names with them, to
be dug up for some
purpose of record
to fissure a cause for disquiet
along the nuns' walk wall.

(Before that, she had been
such a carful girl
and these days I
wince at the sound
of giggles which
remind me of hers.)
All inverted lines are invented, but based on testimonies of real events.
May 2014 · 2.0k
Caution Glints The Vowels
Westley Barnes May 2014
Where buses still elapse with Time
Down straight Dame Street
The Trees are satellites that allow Children to look up
and let the pavement breath.

Earthen Columns that gate the Boombox Clubhouse tint
Flanked by the Yeoman Guards of Hollister
but forget to pay the same compliment
outside of American Apparel
Where Teenagers dream out fantasies
of lamp-lit, flash-shot
worship-worthy objectification
in a converted loft in the real New York
Their headphones spring streams of bright optimism
as they cradle knitted knee-high socks.

Take the curve round Trinity College
and laugh past the rumours
that it may soon float on Dow Jones
and dodge past the charity advertisers
Strutting over campbags of sleeping homeless
to Lemon Cafe for an overpriced Mocha
Which regardless deflates the sheen-covered hollowness
of green-comfy Starbucks

and learn the subtleties of speaking lightly
to dark-jaceketed Blonde girls
Whose eyes seem to sparkle "Yes, we have sipped
on Veuve Clicquot at reserved tables on Graduation nights
at Cafe En Seine"
-"Where Oscar Wilde might have drank"
- "..Had he been alive."

Then speculate on the best Festivals and whose
Films and Books are over-hyped and under-appreciated
and the after-College Gossip on who broke-up or stayed together
or who hooked up even though they shouldn't have
or regretted it

and who's doing a paid internship and who's moving abroad

and afterwards charmingly tease their superficial attitudes
as meanwhile they secretly take photos
to upload on Instagram
and later you'll fake-admonish them
for how they did this behind your back
while you were staring into the lake
in St. Stephen's Green.

When the moon no longer glazed the water
and had receded its contrast to the farthest grass
and you decide to take the last bus home.

Caution Glints The Vowels
and Brands them too.
All caps intentional-for emphatic purposes.
Apr 2014 · 1.0k
Westley Barnes Apr 2014
If I were to elicit success's embodiment
And to feel it's enrapture, like sin
It's touch, coarse as salt to the fingertips?
Would it smell like a rose on the wind?

To risk, for a shared surreptitiousness
That very boldness independence empowers,
to instead announce allegiance to the flock of the age
When drinking after hours

Should it matter on the stage...

As a coy rebuttal to loneliness
In prioritizing what you need,
by finding "circuitous" after a dip in the thesaurus
for describing a sentence about trees
("When, obviously, it's actually describing something...far more potent...than any mere tree.")

...what fails to show up on the page?

Such is the world that Art wanders into
All big gestures 'round a clattering din
....but instead, "Success" has meant to me
A home in my arms
And she feels like a world
resting beneath my chin
A thought that cancels out Art's disappointments
...And her breath is a rose on the wind.
"Circuitous" is a synonym for "Complex" -which I found in a thesaurus.
In case you were wondering.
Mar 2014 · 1.2k
Metropolis, in Reverse
Westley Barnes Mar 2014
We shot the movie
in chrome-based Black and White
Thinking we were '80's hipsters
with a sharp postmodern overbite

And three days later
we were cracking up
in the editing room
over a three-way monologue
on horrible lighting
in midday TV living rooms

Well that was July
and now August is ******* us off
My fashionably long hair is turning mulleted
and I've picked up
an off-season cough

And now you're somewhere in Brooklyn
trying to catch a break
Your hair's been cut
into a schoolboy's bob
and your new friends all
look like fakes

I'd never thought it'd be you
when I'm staring at a screen
it's funny how later in life
we focus
on what we once thought
were inbetweens

Our old friend is working like a robot
trying to make the weekend fit
I guess he supposes it's better
to be lit up just for christmas
than for the constant party graveyard shift

And I guess I'm supposed to believe you
when you tell me
"it's all still pretty fun"
eating beans for breakfast and supper
and spending Saturday nights on your own

But maybe I'm just jealous
there's probably a lot of truth in that
I suppose i'm just getting nostalgic
for the days when I was the only boy
who could make you laugh

The three of us never cut it off too severely
so I'm banking on that long weekend
were we'll meet up in some ex-undergrad hangout
and pretend we're all still best friends

"If we were born five years earlier"
Remember, I used to tell you
"We all won't be so cursed
I guess you were right in saying,
"our lives are going to take on the plot
of Metropolis, but in reverse"
Some song lyrics I've been toying around with.
"Metroplis" is a 1922 German silent film directed by Fritz Lang (1890-1976) about a futuristic dystopian society, that after much ado, transforms into a socially Utopian model of fraternity.
Westley Barnes Feb 2014
I can't admit to having much to show
for all the pain that's left me here.

Worth as much as the fading of Autumn light,
or the memory of snow

Fleeting, if all consuming, the promise
of cult status
And sensitive, yet determined
(if sleepy) stands the catcher of the
Whims at the auditorium's open door.

...But it doesn't mean as much
as the first kiss of
Teenage lovers
after an ice-cream cone.

You could spend half a lifetime
searching for moments
that look like glossy photographs
And to hear your name whispered
behind your back-wherever you go.

If that sounds luminescent, it still won't solve a problem.

But what is "content"?
How far did I get?

In my prime
I was a Roadie for Boredoms
...and they were actually pretty nice guys.
Boredoms are a Japanese Experimental noise-rock band who enjoyed a substantial amount of press attention during the 1990's while supporting popular acts such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth, as well as appearing on the main stage at Lollapalooza '94. They were briefly singed to Warner Bros./Reprise Records and are often regarded as the most avant-garde music group to appear on a major U.S. label.
This poem is non-Autobiographical. However, if Boredoms would like me to do some crew work for them in the future, I'm sure that could be arranged.
Westley Barnes Jan 2014
The minutes and hours drench and drift
like evaporating mud-rain keening through the sides of my fingers
And my belly is warmed at the beigest radiator's synchronized glow.
"Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own."

Such were the words that glimpsed
at truth, that attempted such sweet
transparent reflection upon
my runaway-from-home boy-adulthood
Whimsy scored without the tears
but also without a grasp at love.

Without a chance of knowing all its disappointments,
co-dependencies and retreats.
Hubris instead flanked like steam rising off morning windows to ward off the cold.

Alone, (a recurring fantasy), I placed myself battle-rigid,
regarding only what was then contemporary
keeping a trench against the adherence of life's timepieces
Allowing only seized elation of thought to cluster and ferment out of
the ruins of the world.
Reporting on all but life's safest discrepancy,
the fear of ageing further,

What active pursuits had I, to locate and chase these memories with?
If memory would challenge my conviction,
these ballbearings, by talking back
to disprove the self-image as being merely selfish?
Will I feign to remember these words, nevermind the images, in fifteen years time?

Perhaps only a spark (an imitation of: Gaslight, Phone Charge, Sun) is ever needed
Chore-empty afternoons spent as if waiting in art galleries
for Rothkos to explode, to echo, to ignite something catastrophic,
Something permanently invigorating, that damages,
that which further longs to fall apart.
Lyrics from "Blue Moon" Copyright Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, 1934.
Not used by permission, but I hope they won't mind.
Westley Barnes Dec 2013
Bright windy November
with the slap of cold sun sending frowns
and the absent rain not beating down
choleric substitutes of alcohol withdrawal
and spatial omissions of home fires stoking
empty remembrances of faded potential and
misplaced amorous regret
Haunted by the lingering smell of the souls of
last night's GUINNESS intake staying swell in
the nostrils which is in reality the gulf breeze blowing
gullshit down the river Liffey giver of life.

...And here I am Dublin pillaged and funded
en route to the hour-rate slog
shiny white commerce bleaching out of
windowsills distracting from rooftop
Chiaroscuro  serenading a sky
which old ****** forgotten Sons and Daughters
will die under.

Boots tapping mock-goosestep to the ground
past a girl who speaks on her IPHONE to someone
who presumably not only wants to be seen speaking
to someone on their IPHONE but who also cares enough
to listen as the girl announces to all-and-sundry
human dodging on Bachelors Walk this fateful morn
that "I realised what my problem is Now! People
think i'm saying N when I'm really saying M!"

.....quite an existential crisis you got there, EH DOC?

("This girl's SITUATION belongs in a scenario in the TV show GIRLS which young
Woman Europe-wide have embraced as their spiritual saviour in an era of Consumer
impulse control. By placing the mundane generalities and perceived social failings
interpreted by young American female comediennes as instead representing a means of
self-forgiveness and attempted new-wave soft-core feminist self-celebration young American
actresses are inspiring a new generation of young woman to speak openly in a more in-depth level about everything that usually happens to themselves or some girl they know"-From "The Post-New Male Gaze: Interpreting Critiques of Stereotypically Feminized Pop Culture in Westley Barnes's "Notes on a Rant: The "Took Me Up To Dublin Where It's Famous" Notebook

This is the new white noise.

White Irish Male Critiques perceived socially-announced problems of White Irish Female over White Technology on a white morning in a grey city.

A grey city which subliminally stinks of shame and left-over guilt and of spending too much money on tecno-toys and new-improved nullifying debauchery and even rent during a significantly rough stretch of fiscal years. After a lot of years of white nonsense, really.

But this is where I took myself, and this is what happens once you take yourself here and this is where its famous for it.
Once Monto-based FUNDERLAND for the rich and royal turned over-waxie infested tenement slum district and second city of an industrialised economy waiting for the rest of the world to pay its way.
capital of green and squeaky saviours of the third-world who made some money and forgot about everyone else they used to know back home. Mr Poverty, Mr Humbleness, Mr Sense of Catholic Shame.
Until the rents got too high and they had to move home again.
no matters what it achieves, always putting itself down.

But I can adapt.
I've lived in Rathmines and Portobello before living in either was a
really hip decision to make.
I can find somewhere else before its gets gentrified
(after I find some job that's not worth complaining about
or I eventually leap into becoming to middle-class
to complain about it.)
enough that its a headache living there, too many men wearing the same winter
jackets. Too many packed restaurants and your local actually preparing the tables
in the run-up to the Rugby game on Saturday.
The less of all that, the better for me.

I used to day dream about all of the above, honestly, but I
somehow managed to regain my innocence by living through it.

As for the girl who discovered self-realisation on her (through her?) IPHONE?
She'll be alright. If that's how she starts wading through the floodwaters of relating
herself to the world, misunderstood syllables, name-fails and all, this time in twenty
years, she'll be laughing. Don't worry yourselves, she'll adapt with the times.
Sure, Dublin's famous for it.
Nov 2013 · 1.3k
At Halloween
Westley Barnes Nov 2013
This season is
Memories of kids whipping past
blowing dead leaves on bikewheels
with hoodies hung upwards and
Horror fiend masks.

A ringing of doorbells and delighted
screams rushing forwards
and "Trick or Treat" plunging
like fallen bobbed apples
into concuspiscent ears.

With the Moon bearing high
its dominance of silver contrast
and sandsmoke grimaces
on a clandestine land, ***** for mischief.

All fairytales begin
with a break-up of the family
I'm convinced
All Horror stories
are a crying out
for old friendships to re-emerge
after the gist of mortality
begins to sink in.

And from when I was a teen
most of my friendships, for better or worse,
have centred around attaching my darker thoughts
to something concrete: like a list of favorite author's work
or a poster of Robert Smith on my bedroom wall

claiming knowledge to a world established around my own

The stirring fire to keep on going, after waking up on frostbitten mornings
is not a need to impress with the sense
of my own self-determined
trudging through rain and seeking
lofty self-reward

...But in finding people
to share the walk home with
bounce Cure lyrics back and forth with
and who'll simmer down to a horror film
(without insisting on my recommendation)
at Halloween.
Sep 2013 · 1.4k
Westley Barnes Sep 2013
What repose and subtle wonder it is
to venture looking backward
upon my written name.

Scribbled, lacking coherence in its characters,

doctored suggestively towards containing
 an inherent “literary” edge

out of just what it is,

an association of sounds,

(parent’s gifted accidents of intention)
commingled and pushed into

an accepted truth by repetition

and repetition alone.

The surges of black-tongued self-consciousness

-that I’m far above the spot-scratching undergraduate

notion of admiring my personal stamp, of falling in love

with myself by using “bigger” words to fetishize
my most basic claim on having existed, of being HERE-

are given rise. 

These fade, by examples immemorial, to give way to other voices

striving for attention, to grasp their mark upon the page.

Late evening

On a wall,

Initials carved with a filthy bar

of rationed soap

In Dungeon Europe’s eastern range.

Where prison bars once hounded in

where beating’s sounded off 
morning’s crisp hue

The inevitable made its finer points here

Trampling over names and voices

lost to history.

Now a museum

the lunch-time rush 
of internationals

(who mostly work for corporations with offices in every place they travel)

Photograph themselves with expensive cameras

After shuddering, some even hazarding a tear

in considering what fates have befell

occupants on the wrong side of a different bureaucracy

 ....but all that matters, after they leave, is the the proof 

they were there. And how it was just how they imagined.

Morning, in my bedroom

and I’ve written something again...

I can stack it away

if I feel that I failed to capture

what I wanted to be seen

(if not in my own handwriting,

then on some gilded white screen

letters upright and well-rounded.)

How much can it matter to me?

Seeing my own name

allotted above or at the end

of some juvenile thoughtpiece
the kind editors everywhere
are doing their best to get rid of.

I suppose I write because it pushes me out of the expected

it releases me, on these mornings, these graceful, time-blessed

mornings, out of the cell.

To roam among the other skeptics, who thought aloud to wistfully

spend time away from the routine

To hold aloft a lighter-flame for those trapped inside.
Westley Barnes Aug 2013
The curse of a great, well-known or (at least) culturally interesting family.
Heralded at birth to mimic similar (or even, surpassing) social feats of achievement/wealth/renown.
Instead manages to underpasses even  mundane non-impressivenesses of second-generation parentals.

See them, smirk or folly with time, silently.
....which they seem to quite often.
Biding weekend with multitudes of varying categories of "friends"
and sweethearts who never seem to stick around too long
All aware, of course, of the famous family lineage
Themselves, instead
after lifetimes where first words, senior infants homework,
cheerful accusations of mischief and certificates of age-appropriate health
were lauded as signifiers of a future onslaught of fulfilled capabilities
emerge as providence's lackeys– and meekly, to be
Written out of History
One by One by One.

Talent is frequently a despairing life-cycle
for people who witness
and go without.

But what price success?
Is it to be counted in public
or left behind in wreaths?
Stern evidence
of favour, fought for and won
or shaky good fortune
One life's profitable fluke

Does the cost of success itself
admit backstories of other kinds of loss
that children
without the chance of ever knowing
or changing their inheritances of fate
are powerless to cease the flow
of their own anonymity
all for the insistences of the unarguable
and for merely treading the average?
Jun 2013 · 2.8k
Maps, Mythologies.
Westley Barnes Jun 2013
Nine months after I was born, the Twentieth Century began to collapse.
East Berlin,graffiti-mural concrete, a jutted enigma scratched
on ordinance maps, the sort found
landscaping westernized Primary School walls.
Where within, labored in real time, the television told my parents
(and everyone else given to social conservation in 1989) that a wall falling down
would bring an end to the gap between the working and the working poor.
Freedom waited for many on the other side.
But of course, History draws up different plans.

Never content to just go out with a bash, or to
fleetingly drift by leaving
in its absence an underwhelmed lull
The bloodiest century yet
left the new world entrenched
in an odyssey of hatreds
handed down from the past
right about the time human suffering became a bit dull
and the peaceful countries were too busy
tripling their money instead.

What does History really teach us and what are the real benefits
of being free, or freer than you were before?
Human ambition, which burns it way out of any oasis of calm,
which calls children out of sleeping in the night
Always seeks out the exhaustible
An inveterate Black sheep leading astray
the ever susceptible ****** lamb
Delusion’s strange bedfellows are the worthiest adversaries
to run away from, to reserve contrition for.

Unlike the inevitability of uprooted animal migration
during a monsoon swell
Can a people with an invested addiction
to the pursuit of happiness
Ever truly be prepared
for the inevitability of rapid change?
Westley Barnes Jun 2013
O Human Evolution
of indeterminable joys
This is the first era in History
Where the Girls behave worse
than the Boys.

Young Irish Women
Finally free of the past...
In the heat of the City,
At the stroke of One-Thirty
The truth emerges
Thick and fast.

But don't put me down
as some frigid Boy shrew
You need to put yourself out there
to know
What you're getting yourself into.
Decided to have a little satirical fun with this one.
Westley Barnes Apr 2013
You measure in
vast spaces that my memory fills
I take you where
you thought before you might
get left behind.

Our Love is
sly references
to Private Jokes and
how your eyes light up
as you twirl around inside
your favorite Polka Dot Dress.
“That’s when I think you look your best.”

With Egyptian eyeliner
to illuminate the understatement.

after all you do accept
(Not without forgiving humour...)
A latent tendency in myself
to elongate an awkward silence
after committing whichever topical
and firmly established social faux pas
given the setting.

Not forgetting,
my oft lauded lack of a certain finesse
around my name a peculiar sentiment
Windswept spiky hair and caught-out schoolboy face

“it’s clever not to deny the girl”
her entertainment.
Westley Barnes Apr 2013
“When people move-when they travel-they look at where 
they come from,
not where they’re going.” -Martin Amis, *Time’s Arrow


Let us now take this chance

to praise those dancing demons 
of ambition,
whose feigned clairvoyance 
of fortune
and exactitudes of fame

burn as the smell of smokey fallow 
to the new-retired mare.

Travel, and all its takeoffs,

all its energies in skidding towards

an unopposed truth, makes its mince

by outlining all we ever look for

but leaving the chalkdust prints

of what we fail, at first, to find.

Yes, spaces contrary to the familiar exist
Carnivore cities of grind and result

cascaded above the floodwalls that save

the vagrant’s midnight search.

Coastal clearings of pacific civs,

best kept secrets where trees are still planted

and further kinds of nowhere that you never expected

to simmer with all the prospects of bored and implacable youths

who pine to efface the status quo, which ,after all, is quite the average,

is quite like “HOME”

Though I suppose, we eventually find

whatever space can be considered our own

when everyone grows up and stops

pretending they read Burroughs,
have a lot more going on, or are a lot less busy
than they make out over infrequent coffee meetings
(where it is also admitted

that they brew their own hot beverages,
or tell their own jokes)

Somewhere in the near-space continuum where Travel has

become for us what essentially differentiates
the commonplace in nature from 
that most human of neuroses,

the acceptance of a willing to improve the conditional.

And so to Ambition, and its fiery fops who make us refute

steadiness, accountability, the routine of the resolute

Who let our ships of sanctimony attack

implied with the luxury of steering back.
Feb 2013 · 1.4k
Forecast In February
Westley Barnes Feb 2013
People used to light candles to ward off

prophesies such as this. Stopping, each
motherly representative, for 75 seconds 
or less,
to tip match-spark to wax-thread
and hope for the best.

What ceremonial significance now

do we seek for to slow the approach

of what we know is waiting?
Oncoming march of death-knolls and unhappiness

bound up in silence 
once we laughed uncensored at and for

the characters who spun throughout
this town, that school, the city, our lives.

All being, understandably, becomes

efficiently replaced with obvious simplicity.

From effortless performances

of what made our lives important

back in childhood years when living
was stable and guaranteed,

now to this mongrel era of constant migration


The familiar is no longer our youth’s
careless summer holidays.

The Familiar is now a land where 
people don’t bother with any ideas

of an ideal existence beyond

what lottery tickets may bring.

Those who inhabit here are

more alerted to the purpose of lighting

coals in winter to shelter the children

and to keep the windows from cracking.

In summer find these same awaiting with

patient ears to heed any advice
which keeps them from going completely insane.

Go now, away
your quest, foolish schoolboy.

An entire adolescence’s
 comeuppance is due. 

Time now to seek recompense
for the years you waited

for anything significant to happen. 

Time to seek girls with inviting eyes

and lilting vowels to offer favors to.

Abled with a catalogue of charmed

intoxicants. All softened by
a plentitude of weekdays waking
at three in the afternoon.

(Does “afternoon” exist in layman’s terms? Does

he simply made do with morning, day and night?)

Then on your flight make haste

to ensure your visit merely brief.

Like only one dimension of

your day-persona be a hawk

that delivers messages

back to the ivory towers of

new central HQ, while remaining 

all cloak and whisper.

Messages from where people live

but no longer speak,

as result of an assigned sense

of failure,or complimentary

wrongdoings sought, what sorrow achieves.

Shattered lives, Ending dreams.
Nov 2012 · 911
The Unconsoling
Westley Barnes Nov 2012
Waiting rooms are a manifestation
of the Human condition.
We have trained ourselves
to sit and wonder and to twist around
the same thoughts.
Magazines are wreaths
to our patience.
Greeting cards are symphonies,
Condolences which freeze entire memories
out of our days.
Distilled moments bearing the supple hoard
of memory’s hazy, fleeting temperamentalities.

Watch, see how lives that have known one another’s
according to fathomless mappings of time
are still unsure how to react
upon both reaching their confronting
of a child’s never returning home.
As if it were not enough to wish upon
some falling star, knowing it was unfathomable
for them to know how long even that had been burned out.
What worry waits;
How sleeplessness must invade every living minute
to arbor each silence.
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