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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
:2013
)

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.
Dublin,
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.
Dublin,
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.
Dublin,
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.
5.6k · Mar 2012
Lungs
Westley Barnes Mar 2012
The air doesn’t taste so clean anymore.

I can remember being younger and gasping for breath,
the midsummer breeze provided me with plenty,
and I swallowed pintfulls and laughed at the energy it gave
and at the thumping of my heart.
The air was a little milder then.
It was around the same time,
in my childhood
when I remember that it actually snowed for Christmas.
So I almost must have felt the cold,
but temperature does not threaten you
when you are young and your lungs are full.
Not like nowadays,
when the only reason you don't destroy your lungs with smoke
is because you've seen the hospital wards,
heard of loved ones being eaten away because of
a malignant growth,
but that still doesn’t stop you
from taking the odd ****.

It hardly seems to matter anymore,
now that we are all living in denial.
But there was a time in our lives when our lungs were important,
if you didn’t have strong ones you couldn’t keep up with your friends,
and you needed to keep fit if you wanted to be a "soldier" in the "war"
this being before boisterous childish ideals
realised the dull pointlessness
of living in a neutral country,
where you were more likely to die in a car crash,
or by smoking your lungs tar-black.
You always wondered why your mother kept telling you to start
when she could never stop.
Did she not want you to have as much fun as she was having?
Imagine how many extra holidays you could have spent together
had she saved the money instead of spending it on cigarettes
and if your sister had never been born
you could have sailed twice around the world,
gone to Disneyland twice a year
and went skiing in the alps
instead of waiting to grow up in BORING OLD IRELAND,
waiting for school to end and the rain to stop.
Imagine how many years she has wasted,
because each cigarette costs fourteen seconds of your life.

Why does she want to leave you so soon?

Like her own mother, smoking her way to an early grave.

Its funny how you were the one who kept such care of your lungs
and yet it was you who was the first to end up in hospital.
A place where you could see the germs buzzing,
waiting for you as you arrived through the door.
They're going to make you lay in bed for a whole week
and you haven’t even broken your leg.
Yet they're smiling at you now, daft *******.
"I wonder if they'll still be smiling if I never make it out of this mess."

But you have to admit it tastes splendid.
Takes the edge off,
puts things into perspective,
helps the time pass,
and makes you look "interesting."
Nowadays it’s a lot more social anyway.
Presents you with an excellent opportunity
to strike up conversations outside of pubs.
You could meet the love of your life if one day she asks you for a light.
No one really wants to grow old anyway.
******* yourself in the same chair,
your brain unbalanced by the mind-numbing anti-depressants
and the oncoming surge of arthritis.
5.3k · Apr 2017
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 Jun 2012
A Few lines etched where no words give weight.

Good riddance say the veterans
Of a nation gone sour with grief
Like a lemon slice evaporating onto the tongue of the sick.
But when the young yearn for White Nights,
The old claim they are blinding lights to the cold sugary substance
That supplants an easy path.
The bullithole rush of renewal and lonliness and progress thwarted and abandoned,
Inertia seeping through
Into a cold summer's day.

Between the cursing slant of sleek paved roadstrips,
And the burning briars that thresh the border's haunt,
What is picture postcard emerald
Is in that same instance soviet architect gray.

These are the sleepers bereft of the dream
whose twenty-five stories high
or ghost estates
are domes to cast out the howling banshees,those suffrage of the real
to be re-thought as mere props which surround the haloed glowing screen.

So sheen the Motherland glows in untarnished eyes
Familiar solely with glass behemoths parading with their reflections
In grey water-drizzled streets,
Only to be replaced by iridescent rainbows that foster a hope.
A hope that was packaged and sold two decades back
Since it was not worth carrying into the New World.

The water-trough delving where the electric line banishes,connects a spike,
"rejuvenate the breakfast table"-some far-off God reports, Hades still waiting,
Intel-chip Blue, epiphany at the gates.
This poem is a collaboration between Russian-American poet Mariya Timovskey and Irish poet Westley Barnes,reflecting their respective cultural landsacpes and cultural antagonisms.Each writer contributed lies in response to each other's work using their own individual style.The result is a collage of both appraoches to their subject matter.
3.0k · Jun 2012
Aspirations
Westley Barnes Jun 2012
It's a shame how you must have aspired me to become the child you always wanted
in the months and days before  I was born,
before reality had its chance to construct the person I would become.
when the happy news was first heard of a new child in a new world,
who would be brave and cheerful and kind
and above all sporty,
the kind that would make an impression,a born leader and dutiful follower
a proud patron of the family name.
We would have much in common and I would remind you of yourselves
at such an impressionable age
and I would achieve all you had hoped for.

But perhaps this is the great tragedy that parents stumble upon in this constant letdown of a life.

You were lucky that I was an easy child,never keeping you up at night and never causing trouble,
but the fact that I was lazy,introspective,morbid,
cowardly,unat­tentive,unhelpful,bookis­h,obsessive,
uni­nvolving and unsatisfied
made me realise how much I must have let you down.
I sigh too much,I read too much,I'm so full full of sarcasm that I cannot take anything seriously,
I never want to be the focus of attention,I never eat enough,I dont care about trends,
I dont care if people comprehend me.

I must be impossible to love.

Thats why I have decided to never have children.
They could never be what I would expect of them.
I could never love someone who I was ultimately responsible for,
someone who I could indoctrinate into my own idea of happiness.
2.8k · Jun 2013
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?
2.7k · Apr 2012
Neurotic Girl
Westley Barnes Apr 2012
I'm looking for a Neurotic Girl
someone who will break down before I do
someone who's not afraid to cry,as the tea kettle boils,
after telling me about her problems.
Someone I can worry about,and do unselfish things for, and offer some comfort to,
someone who depends on me for a change.
I'm looking for a girl
who isn't too confident in herself,even though she's wonderful,
at least in my eyes.
Someone who hasn't got her entire life sorted out, just yet.
Someone who'll realise that I can be a nice person, behind the facade.

Because these days I'm wandering
from party to party
from pointless
city centre venues
and all-too-familiar and contemptible
small town social haunts
and all I see and hear
are the attention-seeking, the unreachably friendly, the distant
and the involved
All swimming in mediocrity
If you'll pardon the fake sophistication of that last metaphor
And all I'm left to do
is wonder what it would be like
to find someone
who I could be Introspective,
Debauched and Nihilistic with
A nice Neurotic Girl.

But I suppose that would invariably lead
to some sort of responsibility
in my otherwise self-absorbed existence
I would have to pretend that I am a proper kind of person
for the sake of my fragile lover's much needed feeling of security
I would take it upon myself
to go out into the world
to keep a sort of balance for the both of us
spending headache-inducing hours
with people whom I cant stand
while she sits at home
and smokes
in bed.
Westley Barnes Apr 2013
You measure in
vast spaces that my memory fills
Revolving.
I take you where
you thought before you might
get left behind.

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

With Egyptian eyeliner
to illuminate the understatement.

Kudos.
Deserved,
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
Establishes
around my name a peculiar sentiment
Windswept spiky hair and caught-out schoolboy face
Notwithstanding.

Perhaps,
“it’s clever not to deny the girl”
her entertainment.
2.1k · Jun 2015
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)
Anyway,
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.
2.0k · May 2014
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.

Throughout
Caution Glints The Vowels
and Brands them too.
All caps intentional-for emphatic purposes.
2.0k · Jun 2012
Frightened of Christ
Westley Barnes Jun 2012
Hell sometimes can be a comforting thought
When you consider the promise
of some ire of comeuppance
some reasoned placement
of interminable exile
for the ******* who deserve to end up there.
When all is considered,mortal pain working as the ruse
for an endurance of condemnation
(Mothers still wailing in their sleep for closure two generations on)
Mortal oppressors deserve to be confronted by a special kind of fear
It makes sense
The punishment is apt
Guilt has to work both ways.

But that thought is still not a resolution for me
Particularly as the opposite does'nt attract
Given the fact that I've spent the majority of my life
Frightened of Christ.

It has its origins in my own childhood
when I remember back
To when I hurried weary past
the old imposing church
on my way into town
When I was a four-year old believing
If I was'nt quick
The whole-heaving Bulk of it
would tumble flatly
upon my fragile frame
The old road home
eventually winding its way
to my limbo of soothing distractions
that childhood’s orchestra of daydreams
so fleetingly informs.

Senior Infants Religion class did'nt help either
getting to grip with the crucifix and the like
my parents having sheltered me from the harsh realities of martyrdom
and the cold damp mass congregation on empty Sunday mornings
and the scowl of that year's teacher
who had complained that I wrote too much like a spider's web
Giving us throatfuls of original sin and the rhetoric of  Easter Monday
and my childhood innocence
exposed in the opinion spoken aloud
to a classroom of trained apatheticals
that not only did I not believe that Jesus Christ was the son of god
but that he never existed either
perhaps history disproves my claim on the latter
but the former is still full of endless possibility.
(And all this before I read anything about what really went on during the Twentieth Century-Dear accomplice,I can already hear your sweetened cackle.)

Yet still faced with that emblem of womanhood’s inheritance,I accepted my first compromise of all too humane sympathies.
Bleeding Mary Immaculate,she who suffers,she who in her suffering
silently invokes that long,unquestionable certainty of life,that jump-lead rattle of conscience
and contemplation,she whose warm moments in stony acceptance of fate’s misfortunes eventually led me down that scented path where all my troubles truly began.

Christ himself continued to present
(however loud the familial chorus
attempted to reprimand my nurtured,
after-school-scepticism)those same
tingles of spinal sensitivity,that same
epidemic-like aversion,years after I had
left that winter playground where children
splashed puddle water at each other
to make reputations,and shouted mispronounced obscenities
as a means to show they had no time whoever wanted to act adorable that day.
(The first chance they were given they realised the bluff-ladder of office mentality.)

I could never really face staring
into the eyes of the owner
of that sacred heart
for more than five seconds
He accused me of far too much
without having any notion
of who exactly I was
As I got older teachers
tried to convince me
that he really was
full of love and understanding
but those portrait-painted deepest-blue eyes
could lead to a war criminal's breakdown.

And I was’nt willing to take
the sack and ashes
for any man.
1.8k · Mar 2016
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-

"THE PUPPY COURT"

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

(Breath)

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.
1.8k · Dec 2014
Fugue
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.
1.7k · Jul 2012
Spring Torrents
Westley Barnes Jul 2012
Are these tears of blundering laughter
or heckles of contempt
that spirit on these haggard few
to rhapsodise our era’s curtain calls?
They who brought us mounting debt and conscientiousness
which seems only to be healed in the appeasing fluorescence
of 24-hour supermarkets and the purgatory
of weekends spent at home?

Such stifling, nervous coughs
are head as responses of
today’s domestic questionnaires
Gung-** reformative advances
and calls to “pull up our socks”
Mixed with the state-sponsored fortune-telling
Rationed out to boys languishing on the dole.
Which All falsely transpires,
intimidatingly revealed as being
About as appealing as vacuum cleaners for the soul
aimed at the resolutely bored to tears.

Despite our fears
the sun will come streaming again
through fresh fir trees
which decorate contemplative, sheltered lanes.
These last, frostbitten years
seek replacement with halcyon days
in order to suspend dogmatic disbelief.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves:
Pessimism is ****.
Even in the most roaring of times
we remained despondent and calculated.
1.6k · May 2012
Nietzsche
Westley Barnes May 2012
NIETZCHE  YOU ****
YOU'VE RUINED MY LIFE

I was once so innocent Without You.

Now I can hardly contemplate the light of day
from staring into the abyss for so long.
How can I ever forgive you?
Cynic-master, who taught me how to think for myself
who taught me how to speak with such lucid contempt
Now I can never trust the government
Now I can never have faith in anyone's heavanly aspirations,
The sun having long set on any protests of idealism.

And yet I still find you remarkable Nietzsche
You never fail to make me laugh
at the times when I need it the most.
You're the rebel friend who I can
never introduce to my parents.
Yours is the poster which should adorn every angry teenagers' wall
With quotes highlighting The Will to Power and violent determination.
A hopeful voice in a godless world.
I'm reminded of you in the girl that speaks
or stealing every crucifix in her former convent school
after her friend was expelled.
I'm reminded of you with every protester
who throws a Molotov cocktail at armed police
I'm reminded of you
in eery artist who does'nt follow formality
in every caged bird who continues to sing.

For all your anger
I must thank you Nietzsche
Even if I can never be as happily ignorant as I once was
For wasn't the very crux of modern life challenged by you?
All of Humanity
All the cruelty
All the spit Fullness
All the Hatred
when you threw yourself in front of that horse
being beaten in Turin
and for losing your mind
Just to prove a point.
The German post-enlightenment philosopher Frederick Nietzche (1844-1900) often cited by scholars as "the father of modern thinking" was the author of such groundbreaking texts as Human,All Too Human (1878) Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885) and Beyond Good and Evil (1886).
1.5k · Oct 2014
Persephone
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.
Westley Barnes Mar 2012
I'm Tired of people telling me that I should smile in photographs
My resistance has got nothing to do with
An Attitude problem
or my attempt at
Appearing acutely fashionable
This is just the way I look
Most of the time
Shouldn’t what we choose to record
At least strive for Authenticity?
I'm just not interested in selling myself
Into the acceptable family comfort mode
Having my split-second cheery face sink in
Against The kitchen wall's
"calming" comfort scheme
To be doted on by ageing female relatives
and jovially mocked by visiting casual friends
If anything I don't want my past to be
Looked upon at all

Maybe it's the old story
of leaving home and the urge
To re-invent oneself
To Block out the old experiences, the old embarrassments
Freeing yourself to embark on a fresher tirade
of critical self-assessment
To be finally and victoriously
Free from the unsettling confines
of childhood
To engage yourself completely
in the waking,walking,working
Nightmare of maturity, responsibility
and devastating ambition.
1.5k · Jan 2019
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
paperbacks.

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

Whatever entitles her to this
Guardianship of self-importance
Her being a lighthouse rising above the mists
condensing off beaten shards of rock
is subdued by her companions’ pithy response
“no-you know I have no interest in Autobiographies.”
Westley Barnes 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.

I
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.

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

III
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

IV
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?
1.5k · Apr 2012
Exposure
Westley Barnes Apr 2012
Regardless of the contrast or depth of the lens, it all depends on where the
light falls.
Streetlights glowing,
Like bedcovers laying,
Over the harbour waters inky as
Freshly-spilled car-crash blood,
Reflecting deep as a thought can penetrate.

A parade of gunfire
Startles silent rage into the frightened round-up locals
Eyes cowering and arms raised like scarecrow’s overhanging,
While in a side-alley doorway
A soldier anxiously caresses
A girl who he will never speak to again
The tequila-resembling sun standing watch
Their sole clandestine companion.

A child is given relieving news,
Having arrived not without frustrated effort
That she no longer has to follow the same life-stifling routine.
Her doctor, after the dizzying business of congratulating her parents,
Looks out his window without witnessing their departure
Until his eyes are cast back to dispersion
Appreciating fresh rain turn a week’s snowfall
Into puddles upon the ground.

The mind resists the heart’s attempt to repress,
We resist our own borders admitting a consistency of strain
Memory indulging in a fleeting spectacle of sin,
The Sickly exterior of the heart’s delight.

Regardless of the contrast or depth of the lens, it all depends on where the
light falls.
Moments throughout our lives repeated in the stock footage of the
mind,washing thoughts matted out of stark exposure
seeding out  a negative frame.
1.4k · Jun 2014
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)
  
Photographs
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.
1.4k · Feb 2013
Forecast In February
Westley Barnes Feb 2013
(I)
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 
where
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

beckoning....


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.

(II)
Go now, away
,begin
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.
1.4k · Jul 2014
Clipped
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
1.4k · Sep 2013
Soliloquy
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 Mar 2012
The mirror always laughs first
Spilling light onto imperfections
Alienated from the image in the dream.
A silent curse,
The accusation must remain to this world unrevoked.
Instead pretence must tissue tear stains,
To sundry up a surface glycerine.

Social man has broken all ties with nature’s earth,
He created machines capable of producing images
So he needn’t deny it.
Social Woman was always more comfortable inside
She expressed no claim of love for the landscape
Found no comfort amongst the soil
No romance laying in the dirt.

But yes, the mirror attacks.
The symptom is always one of weakness,
Of the self not having the power to leave itself alone.
The body distorts the mind at first,
Paving the way gradually for more active decline.
We hold it to ourselves to feel worth, or lack thereof.
You can’t sing the tune effectively, without first trying to think like you’re someone else.
Someone that same mirror fails to recognise.

Keep ahead of the crowd so you’re not held back
Expectations will ruin you more than your fears.
Talent is to others that which they lack
Mystery and purpose are all the mind reveres.
Westley Barnes Sep 2012
Gather up, all you roaming and innocent true eyed youths,
the bells that chime the maturing of years will dictate.
And our minds, even in dreaming, are flashing,overloading,constantly ON.
Burning ourselves back towards the sediment,
back towards the eve of light and the horizon’s sweet ascent,
the hope of the bettering of Man (Woman, Child, Subject, Dependent, Enemy, Statistic)
to be played out by actors unsure all over again,
Plot, attempt, market research, unlikely success, unforetold rapid decline
Walk on down that road.

Twenty-Three years of Searching and Bafflement
I still walk on down that road.
The air smelling of leaking chemicals of exported decorative garden plants
the odd fir tree to remind me of a progressive upheaval.
I’ve read about Everything, I’ve sought out Everything; I’ve tried Everything
And yet still unsatisfied.
And yet onward I trot....
Left with the only things I still enjoy doing
Reading, writing about reading and writing about life
listening to music (Both new and the old, same old...cycle ending cycle re-entering brainwaves)
Thinking about ******’
and occasionally enjoying non-self centered ***
(Giving, once in a while, such unexpected joy, and who’d have thought?..)
And always at the back of my head
wondering how if I could get hooked on some supposed poisonous deity
Billfold notes stained ******* or some equally widely condemned non-popular pariah seal
And if I managed not to impoverish myself and become alienated from friends and family
And the moral majority
Then perhaps I could evolve to enjoy even that.
What is pleasure and its pursuit if not some guarantee of routine?
So I continue walking down that road.

Away, away, soon to return another day
Fresher (hardly) enlightened, the same...
and still I cannot recommend to myself
anything else but walking.
For to which valley the wise one goes, who knows, who knows......
Turn left, turn right, only the principles of geography can begin to decide fate.
(Though I would suggest bringing an umbrella, every now and again, just in case....)
To search for others, who would bring a chance of difference, on that self-same route
who share jokes about this one man...
Who was walking down that road.
This poem was partly inspired by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds's song "Papa Won't Leave You,Henry".
(From the album "Henry's Dream",1992.)
1.3k · Nov 2013
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.
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.
1.3k · Jul 2015
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.
1.3k · May 2012
Wexford Crescent Quay
Westley Barnes May 2012
There is only this marina and then there is the sea.
Nothing else is.
An apt enough analogy
for a myth dissolving town.

Shaded by storefronts half-expecting someone to arrive,
The hood- stripped wind
Gusts up solitary, empty alleyways
With only stroppy clatter boards to continue the conversation.
Westley Barnes Jan 2014
The minutes and hours drench and drift
like evaporating mud-rain keening through the sides of my fingers
seamlessly
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
daydreams.
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,
Everyday.

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.
1.2k · Mar 2014
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?

Well...
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 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.
1.0k · Jul 2014
User
Westley Barnes Jul 2014
Somebody
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
everything).

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.
1.0k · Apr 2014
Success
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.
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 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.
952 · Jan 2016
Lazarus
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)
929 · Jan 2018
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.
922 · Mar 2017
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.
911 · Nov 2012
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.
837 · Sep 2014
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
     NO SHOCK TACTICS
     NO SCARY ADS"

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

"LOOK OUT FOR SOME LOCAL GOODNESS"

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
823 · Jun 2012
Cries and Whispers
Westley Barnes Jun 2012
It was that feeling
Of not wanting to get out of bed
In case you stumbled into
An argument
That you had nothing to do with
But cornered, and seal-eyed
You were used as bait.

But that was a long time ago.

And no-one enters or leaves your room nowadays
Unannounced.

With the sight of the car
Pulling out of the driveway
And cheeks still stinging from saltwater tears
And everything feeling like a bad dream.

Like myself, feeling embarrassed and ashamed
For having thrown up in the bowl they were holding
and afterwards having to look them straight in the eyes.

And then pretending years later that I didn’t think about that anymore.

It hurts still. Even now I feel the same,
But I put on a brave face and share
Whatever jokes I can.
So that we can remain “casual” friends.

I went completely out of my head over you once.

But that was all a long time ago.
816 · Apr 2016
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.
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.
741 · Sep 2015
Cloudwatcher
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.
733 · Jul 2016
Indeterminacy
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.
682 · May 2016
Lanyards
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
Dominika
I made it that way.
659 · Mar 2016
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.
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