h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s






Click when it rains? Yes.
Deep down
hum of pain impossible
to ignore and the perfect
time to spiritualize
the material:
count your bones
one by one
by their Latin names.
“And pouring through the narrow straits, the sea
divides the lands & shores
of Italy
from its bounds.”


Facts are
hard enough to hold
a self together.
Then again,
funny + bone
equals a shrill clobbered vibratory
feeling like discovering
you live 
inside a cracked
cartoon bell
while having an anvil dropped
on highly
fricative knees.
I have come to regret
certain of my choices.
Tell me about it!
Floaters in the seam

grind like gilt, glass beads and metallic sequins.
Cracking your knuckles
won’t help. I know.
It always feels
like it should.


Some days,
my bones are paleo-conservatives
full of upright
pitiless zeal for life.
Others, sub-sub-zeitgeist,
a feral necklace
wearing me
from the inside out.
Picket lines tearing
picket fences down.
I don’t even like white roses!


One bad break
does record seniors in.
I read that in the Times.

Be glad when it rains
to feel
even this light vertical static
of hums qualms ticks
in the bone,
that conversation through walls
you can’t tune out
or exactly hear.

Even broken, bones gain traction.
that’s what they’re talking about.
Chalk the sticks.
Rack ‘em up. Bones say,

let’s get back to the business
of moving the obvious
around its closed course
on a very short length of track.


Bone spur to memory:
middle aged
bone on bone
more diverting
than any sexual position, though


don’t get me wrong—
the old pelvic staircase
still tilts to the same
human plateau
we reached
at sixteen.
Over and under,
you inside you, me
inside me,

and all
nature has to do  
is hang its hat
on a cyclone fence
of calcium
marrow blood
and blunt
force long enough to drive

our future generations
onto sharpened
axe handles

Bones are tools.
Ask Kubrick, though he’s history now.
And we get used to scraping by.

Death opens the plot.  
Grass covers it.
Corset of ribs,
our boning
ligature and tendon.
Skin is mostly fashion and fades
but bones, baby, bones!

One stone lantern
carries all our human thoughts
forward forever.
from the eyeholes.


Each vertebrae
knobbed to pearl
is a bridesmaid

in a bone ceremonial
walking us
to the grave.
Who gives this man? This woman?
Bones and the void, Lucretius
could have said.
But for god’s sake
don’t breakdance at
the reception.
Act your age.

Try stretching exercises
or yoga instead; balance

a little dignity
over that badly stacked
leatherbound library of  
smells and oblivion’s
dust to dust.

Knuckling under.
“Stay here, dear.” “Alright. For awhile.”


Remember to bend your knees.
Budget more time
to get around

before you are forgotten.

Each chilled gesture
is rough-faceted, each
bone a pinned foci,
a branch of who you once were.
There is no purity of form
in construction zones.
Only diesel fumes

as heavy machinery
grades a hillside,
and one fellow with a shovel
the root ball massed
around a skeleton tree.



You’re the poet laureate of privacy, my husband said.
I wasn’t ignoring him, I was reading a book.
You blim the blam of privacy,

you skin privacy’s fruit.
Yeah, my son said. If privacy needed a guide dog
you’d be its trainer. You’d help privacy sniff its own butt.

That’s nonsensical, I said.
I could tell without looking he was proud of that one.
I’m in this family, aren’t I?

I’m right here in the living room.
But if your life stopped
at the corner of First & Homicide, my husband said, you’d come back to blow away

the chalk. Admit it—you’re a pupa;
you haven’t eaten your way out of your little silk tent yet.
You haven’t gotten off the blimp.

My stepson wanted in.
You’re Santa’s Village, he said, where
it’s Christmas every day but closed on Christmas. Wait,

I said, wasn’t that joke from The Simpsons?
Oh, snap, he said, I forgot:
you’re privacy’s ghost writer now, privacy’s highly evolved

groupie slash divorce lawyer slash
salt water aquarium.
Does privacy take one lump or two?

Have you checked your municipal holdings lately?
Few and falling, I said, serene
enough with my civil disobedience,

and even, I suppose, with the fidgety loneliness I’ve been wrestling all my life
like a bear in a cheap roadside attraction,
though I couldn’t help wondering

what was the seed and what the ground?
Why, when I could redeem myself
with a simple open act,

was I always weighing the hearts of the dead?  And why—
when temporarily exhausted by that exercise—
did I guard myself as though I’d found

black box proof of faulty wiring
and a survival sermon whispered on emergency frequencies
only I should hear?

Ho, ho, ho.  I’m not listening, I said, flipping pages, not reading now but imagining
how it might be accomplished:
a casual, unchecked nature.

Not scout, sniff, private dick,
comptroller,  CEO-embalmer of every unrehearsed word.
Whatever happens after that, happens. The hell with it—

stop minding my own business!
I let that idea
take me to the movies. I held its hand in the easeful dark. Closed my eyes.

Who wants popcorn? my husband said, giving up.
If privacy were extinct, my son said, kissing my cheek, you’d be deader
than the passenger pigeon and the Carolina parakeet.





the pigeon the patsy the coney the gull
the jay the sap the bates the flat
the sucker the dupe the dope the shill
the mark the lost the skinned the bidden
the violence of sounding
the sequence the dream

the binding span
the wink into being
the sequence the sounding
the sugar on fire
the skinned the mark the bills the job

the job of bills the bank the cut
the trip the wink the deal the cut
the sharps the swells
the bank the bank the bank the bank
the bank
laughing all the way to the bank




Bio: Dorothy Barresi is the author of four books of poetry, American Fanatics;  Rouge Pulp;  
The Post-Rapture Diner, winner of an American Book Award; and  All of the Above, and her poems have been published in  journals including Poetry, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review and Chaparral. This year she becomes a regular reviewer of poetry for the Gettysburg Review. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, the Emily Clark Balch Prize, and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a Professor of English at California State University, Northridge and lives in Los Angeles.


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