Olive (Stuart Barnes)

O love, how did you get here?
O embryo
Remembering, even in sleep,
Your crossed position.
I didn’t call you.
I didn’t call you at all.
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright
One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel.
Nevertheless, nevertheless
Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses,
With soft rugs—
The last of Victoriana.
Five balls! Five bright brass balls!
To juggle with, my love, when the sky falls.
Love, the world
Suddenly turns, turns color. The streetlight
And I love your stupidity,
The blind mirror of it. I look in
O love, O celibate.
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
Love, love, my season.
A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for


* This poem is a cento; sources: Sylvia Plath’s ‘Nick and the Candlestick’, ‘Medusa’, ‘Fever 103º’, ‘By Candlelight’, ‘Letter in November’, ‘For a Fatherless Son’, ‘Morning Song’, ‘The Couriers’, ‘Poppies in October’.

Stuart Barnes lives in Melbourne, where he edits PASH capsule, a Facebook journal of contemporary love poetry. He’s currently working on a manuscript, ‘Blackouts and other poems’, that’s dedicated to the memory of Gwen Harwood, who encouraged the eleven-year-old him to write poetry. Poems are forthcoming in Windmills, Southerly, Blasphemy, Mascara Literary Review, & Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry (USA).