Two Poems

by John Wall Barger

John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, RattleSubtropics, Hotel Amerika, Best Canadian Poetry, and The Montreal Prize’s Global Poetry Anthology. His third collection, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press), was a finalist for the 2016 JM Abraham Poetry Award.

 

Crow & Fox in Love

Fox beat Crow
with a club, dragged Crow
by the feathers.
Fox raped Crow.
Crow lopped off its own breast,
shot arrows at Fox.
Fox broke the arrows,
spit on Crow,
called Crow a myth.
Crow’s pleasure
was a spilling cup,
so Fox sewed Crow’s pleasure up.
Crow waved
a crocheted flag of Crow,
which Fox burned.
Crow heard voices ordering,
Fight, Crow, fight!
Fox gave such resistance a name,
a school of thought
Crow was forbidden
to learn about.
Fox tied Crow to the stake.
Roasted & cannibalized
Crow & wrote stories about it,
allegories:
Fox riding over Crow
with a train; feeding Crow
ratsbane; posing as
Crow’s father,
dandling Crow on Fox’s knee.
Crow stormed out,
slammed the door.
Why, said Fox,
do you not behave?
Can’t you accept an apology?

 

The Prince with No Asshole

They kept him in the dark
about the dark at the bottom
of himself. Courtiers swaddled
the prince in silk diapers.
His bowel movements they called
“sovereign thunder,” an omen
portending good weather.
As he defecated they trotted in
a choir of children who sang
of the prince’s fame & glory,
in his face. The priest explained,
one never touches down there
(just one of the many spaces
in the castle, like the War Room
& the dungeon, attendants
distracted him from). Perhaps
he was not the smartest prince.
As an adult, he turned cruel.
From his balcony, peering down
at the masses applauding him,
the prince held his nose & cried,
“They excrete what they eat?
How gauche!” & shot a ruby-
studded musket into the throng.
One boy in his retinue had
eyes like lanterns on the boat
of the dead. The prince dreamt
of him. He summoned the boy
to his bedchamber, naked.
He let the naked boy remove
his gown, even his imperial diaper.
The boy kissed him, tenderly.
The prince stared dreamily
out the window. As the boy
slipped a finger into the royal
anus, the prince ejaculated
at once. Then he called out,
“Off with his head!” At the execution,
the prince was overheard
saying, “One as pure as me
should never love.”



John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, RattleSubtropics, Hotel Amerika, Best Canadian Poetry, and The Montreal Prize’s Global Poetry Anthology. His third collection, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press), was a finalist for the 2016 JM Abraham Poetry Award.

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