Stuart Barnes



Poetry: the loaves and fishes,            
That rabbit’s foot I carried in my left pocket            
And then, in disgust, returned           
To an interloper, robber of dead men’s dream,         
The sins that flow between the hands and feet          
Of a new and pitiless faith.                

Sting them, sting them, my Anopheles.         
Among the water-lilies           
The symbols were evident,    
They carried no echo.            
The genitals (o lures of starveling faiths!)     
Were wreathed in dying garlands.                 

I have pursued rhyme, image, and metre,      
On the clouds of ancestral                  
Tumble. Rightly contempt                 
Has worn a haemorrhage in the lining           
Of our serious frolic               
And brings the gush of evanescent waters.               

A splash — white foam in the dark!              
And the sound track like a trail of saliva.      
Only a part of me shall triumph in this          
I said to my love (who is living)                    
And not till then did my voice build crenellated towers       
Of our too rigid state.            

The eyeless worm threads the bone, the living          
Move in a calm immortal frieze                    
On the vertical banners of praise.                  
Out of the dark and self-denying wave         
The green descant of frogs.               
We dubbed it a sideshow.      

My white swan of quietness lies        
Under the carved rococo porch          
Where the urchins pick their nose in the sun             
And at the efflux of a period’s error              
New sign-posts stretch out the road that lingers                    
On the hyperbolic.                 

The figure that strode hell swinging  
Our creeping disjunct minds to incredible patterns,              
Had his hand upon that snowy globe             
But no one warned that the mind repeats      
Like a white arm thrust          
Over these sunken sodden breeding-grounds!           

The pond-lilies could not stifle          
Its insidious relations.            
Our substance finds that his rude touch         
Was transmuted to a troll.      
The hand that would clutch               
Was it not floating upon my tides?    

Innumerable the images         
When the hysterical vision strikes     
And hurls him back against the opposite wall.
What would you have me do? Go to the wars?         
Now in your honour Keats, I spin      
The black swan of trespass on alien waters.  





ENDONE® Oxycodone hydrochloride 5 mg


Blister-white tablet engraved with ‘ENDONE’                                
on one side, break bar the other.                                                        
It does not take the place of your doctor                                           
or pharmacist: opium or morphine:                                                    
Accident or Emergency.                                                                    

Store it below ground, above ground, in                                           
an unlocked cupboard. Store it in the bathroom,                               
store it near the sink. Leave it on every                                             
window sill, leave it in the car. Swallow                                           
it before meals with a glass of nausea.                                              

Do not show your pupils, abnormal,                                                  
do not show your restlessness, do not show your goose                   
-flesh, do not show your fast heart rate, do not show your new        
-born child to a doctor or pharmacist.





The Rabbit Catcher


after Sylvia Plath


The little thickets were the only place to get to.
The absence of the sea

Set a white, extravagant quiet.
I awaited the great beauty of the gorse—

Unreeling, perfumed,
Ringing the snares with its unction.

It was intent, like torture. 
Its dead black spikes

Made a hole in nothing.
And its flowers tasted like vacancy.





Notes on Poems:

‘Chalicento’ is a cento from Ern Malley’s ‘DUrer: Innsbruck, 1495’, ‘Sonnet for the Novachord’, ‘Sweet William’, ‘Boult to Marina’, ‘Sybilline’, ‘Night Piece’, ‘Documentary Film’, ‘Palinode’, ‘Night-piece (Alternate Version)’, ‘Baroque Exterior’, ‘Perspective Lovesong’, ‘Culture as Exhibit’, ‘Egyptian Register’, ‘Young Prince of Tyre’, ‘Colloquy with John Keats’ and ‘Petit Testament’.

‘ENDONE® Oxycodone hydrochloride 5 mg’ is a remix of some of the consumer medical information for ENDONE® Oxycodone hydrochloride and first appeared in Glasshouses

‘The Rabbit Catcher’ is a remix of some of Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Rabbit Catcher’ and first appeared in Plumwood Mountain



Stuart Barnes is the author of Glasshouses (UQP 2016), which won the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award. @StuartABarnes