“In the House of Bluebird” by Stuart Barnes

we follow each other, but you
pay me no attention, and my first impression
re-emerges—intent on annihilating,
most obdurate of borrowers,
with Heart With Ribbon, with Face Throwing A Kiss. Not unaffected,

I throw in everything—
kitchen sink there, realism here;
I imagine you tamping filterless cigarettes,
a wannabe Jimmy Dean, and nervous
as a bluebird. Bird-blue missives aren’t unanswerable,

but you guilt-trip and tilt your subjects
to the hilt. Ridiculous
twitterfly, balling fire in one hand,
water in the other with arachnid regularity,
you’re blind to alien waters, to dihydrogen monoxide.

Burning a fag, burning with a low blue flame, you
dream of burning me.




note: ‘In the House of Bluebird’ is a terminal from Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Rival’; the phrase ‘alien waters’ is from Ern Malley’s ‘Dürer: Innsbruck, 1495’


Stuart Barnes was born and grew up 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 has been poetry editor of Tincture Journal and Verity La. Since 2017 he has been a program advisor for Queensland Poetry Festival and since 2018 a member of Bent Window Books’ advisory board. http://stuartabarnes.wordpress.com / @StuartABarnes