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






Gone today, here tomorrow!
           —Groucho Marx

In 1784 I described my shipwreck
on a hunk of wood & sealed it
in a bottle. I reported how
we, my shipmates & I, 44 in all,
found an island & starved.
On coconuts we starved.
On crabs. I lay in a river
water in my ears dreaming
of home, Hiraturemura.
I was a boy, a monk sat cross-
legged teetering at the edge
of a well. What are you doing?
I asked. Imagining the form
of The Problem Solver, he said.
I hear the giggle of a crow.
The crow stands in the ocean.
He wears a monk’s robes.
I wade out. I kneel in coral.
I hold up my bottle. I put my soul
in here, I say. You did not,
says the crow. I have ambitions,
I say. They must lay down
their guns, I say. They will not,
says the crow. What can I do
to save Japan? Too late for that,
says the crow. In 150 years
a fisherman will find your bottle
caught in the seaweed
at Hiraturemura. Oh! I say.
Do not rejoice, says the crow,
for your life is meaningless.
Hearing that, I was enlightened.





The self’s hundred births converge
at daycare, awake at naptime
among the milk-fed sleepers.
Born apologizing for report cards.
Born leaping over my bed
to dunk a Nerf ball. O Michael Jordan,
where are you? Born standing
apart from the sleek oracles
of dodgeball, born jealous
of Wally Martin’s wolfboy grin.
Born loathing the weak ones,
the stupid ones. Born roller skating
from bullies. Born spineless,
just this notochord. Born bored,
euphoric, dipping my big toe
in the shallow end, paranoia,
vandalism, stardust, Lisa Rowe.
Dropped into the frazzle,
dagger-deep in the torso of
You askin’ for it, kid? Calm as
an anthill, tearing through
a Citadel Hill of Xmas gifts
& out the back door without so much
as Catch ya later. Born
hoarding toy trucks, hockey
cards, comics, rocks, plastic guns.
Born hallucinating, in solitary,
back seat of a Volvo station wagon
traversing Maine, a one-boy
radio beacon, frequency adjusted
to guarantee no witnesses.
O Guy Lafleur, O Ringo Starr,
what leaks from a twenty centimetre
crack in the pit at reactor two?
Me at the dinner table, flicking
mashed potatoes at the scourge
of grade six, the first boy I kissed,




BIO: John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best Canadian Poetry and the Montreal Prize Global Poetry Anthology. His third collection is The Book of Festus (Palimpsest, 2015). 


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