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Three Poems by Phillip Barron

Slow Progress Ahead

by PHILLIP BARRON

 

As if allowing

lovers to love

could be apostasy

bulbous ants

busy themselves

marring marriage

amendment posters

and posting

disinhibited remarks.

 

Orange-vested vanguards

with stimulus funds

blast apart at the seams,

divide and conquer the Old

North State’s elderly

mountains, pull poplars

down blue ridges, drag

the stumps and stems

that know no suffering

through galax and wedding bells.

 

The ants crawl past pavers

grading clay, survey

the four corners

of the constitution’s new parking

lot, staunch the bleeding

with asphalt

and burn it all and hope

the view is lovely in the fall.

 

 

Unauthorized Access

by PHILLIP BARRON

 

A levee is a thing to remember when the river starts

to rise, to know intimately as strangers

toss sweaty sandbags sidelong, as many as hands,

but a thing to forget when time is plain.

Don’t ask about its base, terrorist. Don’t ask

about its place, trespasser. It’s made of classified.

But between bureaucrats’ words is space

to trace the embankment of knowable,

like how high a Tomcat will fly or how low

an Ohio will go. With all eyes on a levee,

if you can’t know how the city stays afloat, why trust it?

Like political argot, levees occlude, obstruct

explorers, contain the curious, divert

the determined. Except when they don’t.

 

 

Cave Lights

by PHILLIP BARRON

 

“What science can’t accept is some “off-limits” sign at the boundary of the interpretative disciplines.” –Alex Rosenberg, Final Thoughts of a Disenchanted Naturalist

 

 

To love wisdom unsettles

in the most satisfying way.

 

It is

to look humbly

at that which comforts you most

not just pudding and paved streets,

but also antinomian absolutions,

good gods, and all things

considered,

to learn the world is but a cave

and the world worth knowing

requires crawling out the rope

ladder of reduction,

to gather the beliefs

and attitudes

and judgments

you can’t live without,

and label their UHaul boxes fragile,

to pull them behind

in a canted makeshift cart

as you blunder and stagger

through the tulips for the first time

unsure that you know even how to walk

to let the fragiles melt

in the new, brighter light.

 

And after a while,

to find fresh comfort,

not only in absurd universes,

but in Darwinian induction,

data-derived aesthetics,

and physicists dangling strings,

 

knowing all the while

that, with luck, you may live

long and become wise,

so sensitive as to see

the new, brighter light fade,

grow so dim that you notice

the string from which the bulb dangles,

and you wonder how far

it reaches before it too

finds purchase in the chert.

 

Let us call the strings synapses

and let the bulbs be neurons

and lose no more sleep over

how many turtles Russell can count

how many circles Emerson can draw

how many lines Augustine can divide

or how many caves from which Plato can free us.

There is

always

one more.

 

A southerner by way of the American South and South America, Phillip Barron now lives in Davis, California. He teaches philosophy and poetry at the University of California, Davis, and recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in Main Street Rag, Counterexample Poetics, and the anthology Airplane Reading. He is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and an editor of The Squaw Valley Review and OccuPoetry.

 

Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)

To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at counterpunchpoetry@gmail.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx – use “Save As” to change docx or odt files to “.doc”).  Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

 

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

 

For more details, tips and suggestions, visit CrowVoiceJournal.blogspot.com and check the links on the top right. Thanks!

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