Barbara Ungar

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

Hand Me Down

I knew he would pass me Artwork by Gene McCormick
his pencil marks climbing up
the kitchen doorframe criss-
cross mine slipping down
Still it’s strange to wear his out-
grown sneakers or sweatshirt
to look up at him  or be picked up
and carried around the house

Under my pillow
an old pj top
night blue jersey
stamped with paler stars
spiral galaxies and spaceships
saved from when he was so new
it seemed impossible he would ever
fill those long sleeves

I keep it to shield my eyes
against that busy old fool
the rising sun
a constant token
of the warp speed of life
and the barely imaginable 
stretchings and shrinkings
of spacetime



On an almost hidden Artwork by Gene McCormick
shelf of
a curiosity shop
in a crystal cup 
like a martini glass  
a small fish
maybe a baby 

and a white dove also 
tiny as a hummingbird
beat its

Affixed to the cup
a card said
This is

The wings of the dove
the terrified eyes—
this souvenir
I bring back
for you


Jeanne Et Moi (or, Two Degrees)
Artwork by Gene McCormick
I watched Jules et Jim again last night.
Jeanne Moreau still captivating
though her character, Catherine,
is monstrous. Jules et Jim
are idiots. The best part is when
Jules, oblivious to Catherine’s
changing face, quotes Baudelaire
to Jim—Woman is natural, therefore
abominable—and she jumps into the Seine.
One of Moreau’s lovers was my grad
school teacher, drop-dead
gorgeous in his rakish youth.
He took me to the Hamptons
for a chaste weekend at Lichtenstein’s
estate where I sat next to a Greek prince
in my thrift-shop dress of rotting lace.
Now he is very old and la Moreau
is dead, but for a moment someone
who’d slept with her wanted to marry me.


Barbara Ungar’s Save Our Ship won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize and is forthcoming from Ashland Poetry Press in September 2019; her chapbook, EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered), is forthcoming in 2020 from Ethel. Prior books include Immortal Medusa, one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Poetry Books of 2015; Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life; and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Prize, a silver Independent Publishers award, and a Hoffer award. A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, Barbara lives in Saratoga Springs.