Three Poems by David Barrick

House Band

Boris Karloff invented all the instruments we play. They sound pitchy and strange. Erratic intonation. There’s no Hal Leonard manual, no standard tunings; our fingers need extra time to find the holes and fret the strings. We need to open windows, have a cross breeze on stage feeding the big-mouthed reeds. Don’t be shy, move up the dance floor—these songs harmonize at just the right angle. Tilt your head, listen. Hear the counterpoint of crickets, creaky sepulchres. Hear the tides rushing in to join the band. Come up, try these oblong instruments—no roadies, no bystanders here. We long since did away with firm boundaries.

Chapel Head

His eighteen stained-glass
lancets glow: oil paint mosaics
locked in lead. Brass bells
dangle, sing in the lofts
of his steeples, one eyelid
blinking over a rose window
planted in a broad white face.
He kneels at midnight, chin
resting in snow, choir filing
through his tall oak doors.
The snap of sheet music:
euphonic carols echo, chime
up through his rafter sinuses.
I am but a humble vessel.


A cauldron of cloud stews
the sun’s puckered eye.
Weathervane cockerels point
to the town’s oldest elm tree.
Birds sing low strings of notes
sounding like vowels. The wells
toss up clots of crimson moss.
Walking home, the magistrate’s
knees jolt and lock, dropping
him in the road, bags of eggs
and milk bursting in the dust.
The whole town gathers
in the square by the churchyard.
Rain sizzles on dry headstones.
The children have no questions
about any of it.

David Barrick’s poetry appears in The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Train, The Dalhousie Review, Juniper, perhappened, and other literary magazines. He teaches and writes in London, Ontario, where he is Managing Director of the Poetry London reading series. His first chapbook is Incubation Chamber (Anstruther Press, 2019).

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