Nicholas Barnes

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acting the clown yet running out of spraying carnations;
handkerchiefs; balloon animals.

wearing your marathon shoes, but finding yourself on a
slow motion hamster wheel.

a heartbreak beyond hyperbole—it bares its teeth still.

trying your damnedest to get up in the morning, but you
can’t find your feet.

bad winters becoming bad springs, bad summers, and
worse falls.

sexy bottles: curvy frosted figures that never give you
enough love & always run out.

being chased by a snake in klamath headwaters.

searching for a god, praying, begging to audiences

crying into your bunk bed pillow, because pencil people
keep getting erased.

relapse after relapse, another recovery stunted.

doing your best laurie strode, living life in spite of your
own michael myers.

pneumonia at 3 months then 9 years—e.r. saline drips
are friendly faces to you.

eating the crumbs, ignorant of the loaf they fell from.

hostile chimpanzee smiles behind every door, every
darkened corner.

feeling like a late night tv snowy sendoff: channel 3
without any rca cables plugged in.

damaged parts, no warranty

his body has arms.
has legs. has cellulite.
has all the important
bits. an egg shaped,
oval headed skull.
thickened fear stowed
in pores and cells. a
necklace made of
blemishes. the kaput
countenance of a
tender artist. a small
gut bearing lightning
bolt stretch marks.
strange hairy skin.
yellowing teeth.
lopsided craven
stubble that won't
manifest into a beard.
his scars. his acne
battle wounds. his
puggish nose. his big
funny ears. his
ordinary brown eyes.
he hides his physique,
dressing in billowy
black and blue.
because he feels them
staring: the roving
bands of preachers;
the flies buzzing on a
picnic; the crooked
broken fingers
pointing; the cruel
laughter. makes him
want to just get in a
rocket ship and never
come back. maybe on
a distant planet the
aliens will think he’s
beautiful. he hopes
the feeling’s contagious.

maison de rêve

evil stays outside your walls. god’s penal code isn’t welcome. no one screams at you. nightmares are nonexistent. emotional barbed wire is cast out. you are allowed to be a child and experience wonderment. no one pretends to call the cops or santa. you don’t need to turn up the tv to stop the shouting. anvils don’t hang overhead. hands don’t fly. secrets aren’t kept. dishes aren’t hurled. wait until your dad gets home isn’t uttered. family is a happy word. wine, beer, and vodka are personae non gratae. dreaming is encouraged. your pets live forever. you never have to drive your parents back from the bar. punishment isn’t given out like candy. belts are just for pants, not young bodies. your virgin heart knows no hate, and suffers no abuse here.


Nicholas Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Oregon University. He is currently working as an editor in Portland, and enjoys music, museums, movie theaters, and rain. His least favorite season is summer. His favorite soda is RC Cola.