Wednesday Nov 29

Barbour-Poetry Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of the chapbook Come To Me and Drink (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Waccamaw, Kestrel, Referential Magazine, UCity Review, Diode, damselfly press, Prime Number Magazine, Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, and Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems. She teaches at Lake Superior State University where she edits the journal Border Crossing.

That’s What Men Do

The kittens loved the engine
for its warmth and security.
My sister and I were in a hurry
to get some place,

and as our father backed the truck
out of the carport,                                                
a screeching.
He stopped the truck

and cut the engine.
My sister and I sat in the cab
on the sloped driveway
and tried not to look at

what our father carried away,
though we knew,
and carefully glanced
at what twitched in his hands.


Barely Visible but Burning

No one was watching, off elsewhere.
My mother, almost term with my brother,
cooled herself inside in front of a fan.
Earlier that day I’d watched my grandfather                                     
expertly slice a watermelon, fruit falling into halves
at the blade’s quick insertion. Juiced pooled
on the porch from our summer afternoon feast,
green rinds piled. The black knife beckoned,
sticky and shiny, dark seeds stuck to one side.
I toddled over, two, took the wooden handle
in one hand, a small piece of rind in the other,

and sawed up and down, working my new tool,
moving slowly through the rind and into the meat
of my hand. I may have screamed.
I may have watched it happen. Blood might
have dripped to the porch, parents and grandparents
rushing toward me. Only another line
in my palm now, running the length of my hand,
barely visible but burning when I trace above it
to tell the story at my daughter’s insistence,
unable to tell her if it hurt or if I sobbed,
only aware of the tingling in my skin,
what I kept instead of memory.

Bull in the Field


Then I saw him: master of the herd,
pawing the ground with a front hoof,
shaking his horns and snorting.
I came to a halt and froze,
my heart clawing its way up my throat.
Suddenly, I knew what to do
as if I’d always known:
I retreated slowly. I did not turn my back
until I reached the safety of the fence,
then squeezed myself through cords of barbed wire.
My heart pounding, I returned to the house
where my family worked or napped,
unaware of my absense.