Stuart Barnes

Shy Riot

In shoes of considerable sophistication           
Our a-historical period sees it            

schist afire through the rock) and humans,
truth for children histories futures.    
                       (your mistake: “History WAS”)

like a sophist’s jam, the plot congeals.
And purple thistles in our blue air burn
like an overzealous catechist,
throughout. What do you call that the anarchist of comfort asks,       
4. What is your attitude toward historical subjects?  
                                                                         as historied isms rise and fall
and calling, “Whistling swans are musical    
bloom proposing an impossible tomb. Of the Tachists, the master said to his friend Harry, “They 
And the rocks’ prehistoric       
hist      whist   
historicize temporalities         
tainted too historically                        

One by one, poets and historians, the standard-bearers of culture,
       masochistic enough to want to read the book in order
loom dire and histrionic as a play.     

In this hysterical brilliance of neon   
                          There is so much aqua, histamine.         

Note: ‘Shy Riot’ is a cento from, in order, Frederick Seidel’s ‘Widening Income Inequality’, Ishmael Reed’s ‘Chattanooga’, Nam Le’s ‘Elegies’, Lionel Fogarty’s ‘Head Keeper Futures Corridor’s Bay’, Philip Whalen’s ‘Historical Disquisitions’, Peter Rose’s ‘The Art of the Novel’, James Merrill’s ‘Variations: The Air Is Sweetest That a Thistle Guards’, Judith Beveridge’s ‘Performing Angels’, Amiri Baraka’s ‘Tender Arrivals’, Thomas Merton’s ‘At This Precise Moment of History’, Melvin B. Tolson’s ‘DELTA’, R. G. Everson’s ‘Whistling Swans’, Kathleen Rooney’s ‘Le Tombeau des Lutteurs’, Brian Swann’s ‘Prehistoric Music’, E. E. Cummings’ [hist whist], Gitan Djeli’s ‘the Lorde’, Tom Raworth’s ‘The Vein’, Akhtarul Iman’s ‘Relics of the Past’ (Translated from the Urdu by R. Parthasarathy), Bruce Covey’s ‘Flat: Sentences from 14 Science Books’, Rachel Hadas’ ‘The Chorus’, Mona Van Duyn’s ‘In The Cold Kingdom’, Sandra Simonds’ ‘Lines Written on Nursery Wall’.

Stuart BarnesGlasshouses (UQP, 2016), won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and was shortlisted/commended for two other awards. In 2018 he guest-edited, with Quinn Eades, Cordite’s TRANSQUEER issue. Twitter/Instagram: @StuartABarnes

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