Migraine (Stuart Barnes)

A pain in the neck.
Brume spuming at the eye’s dead
centre, odd
digits prodding sockets, inner
ear’s even keel. Eely  
fevers no anal
-gesic can truly cure. 
Half-mask of numbness. You’re struck dumb, tongue 
in cheek, slack
-jawed, weak at the knees, the air fish
korma-laced. Apollo rests sharply on your
laurels, The Hours in your lap—medusa-pulse,
medusa-pulse. Migraineur—the drawn-out vowels
nauseate you—Virginia Woolf’s
one, too. Five times you fail to reach a salty doctor’s
pointer finger. One, two, five days—you’re still craving
quietness, quietness.
Radiant Woolf, in a letter to Vita
These headaches leave one like sand which a wave has
uncovered. You fail to record
‘Vampiric sensitivity to sunlight’, ‘Unfurling in a
whirlpool’, ‘Cupio dissolvi
—xerostomia. The doctor records letters—all Greek to
you. In the gods
Zeus fashions another thunderclap.


Stuart Barnes was born in Hobart and lived in Melbourne for seventeen years before moving to Rockhampton. His first poetry collection, Glasshouses (UQP), won the Thomas Shapcott Prize, was commended for the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award. Stuart was poetry editor of Tincture Journal, served on the advisory board of Bent Window Books, guest co-edited (with Quinn Eades) Cordite’s TRANSQUEER issue, and is a program advisor for Queensland Poetry Festival. He’s currently working on a novel and his second poetry collection, Form & Function. Poems are forthcoming in POETRY (Chicago), Rabbit anSoutherly. Twitter/Insta: @StuartABarnes