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Christopher Barnes

The bohemian in winter

defoliates light on the mystique of things
slips into (flexitime, before noon)
a punctilious wardrobe
of finicky lines, hot-quarrelling colours.
Marks time with a jaunt, intercity steel,
express-express, a townhouse landscape,
cheek by jowl semis, crow’s nest bridges,
the bloodshot brick of jettisoned factories.
And first and last it’s the tea room
that tempts him in. He’s off and on
solitary, otherwhiles pally,
sampling at the edges
of a billow of quick-fire cream
in the dreamy mists of coffee.
There are the backbones of tomes to wrick,
deep-browed searches, airings
of splodged watercolours, crumpling oils,
skin-deep installations and pacific walks
along the river bank.
So this life is never-ending
he squanders only Art,
makes secret studies of survival,
flings abracadabras up to evening stars.

The chiropodist’s odd-job woman collects

viscose fuzz, laps up smears
of varnished whittlings
in colours—raven blue,
black-night saffron,
purple seaspray
and starry-eyed lemon-scarlet,
clods of pre-soaked skin, translucent
on the floorboard’s glaze,
corn pads with punched-out hearts,
elastoplasts drunk on goo,
the callous helmets of verrucas,
shattered files,
from athletes foot, gawky cuticles,
bruised swabs with acidfreak swirls
haemorrhaging to the fringe.
She hurtles them into a dustpan,
bags them in mean polyvinyl.
While the moon blurs
it’s up and doing ores, she dreams
she is the Sprite Dervish
who stomps the turf
in a woundwort and tarragon boot
fixing an Everest of her spoils
in the cast of a big toe.

©2005 by Christopher Barnes

Christopher Barnes studied literature and history at Newcastle College, then Poly. In 1998, he won a Northern Arts Writers Award, and his first collection, Lovebites, is published by Chanticleer Press in Edinburgh. See more of his work at his BBC Web page.

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