Barcode Ode

Checksum and glyph. Razor-slit gaps between
start-markers. Quiet zone. Each explains
itself and all it knows in silent lines
packed tight as eyelashes, the teeth of a comb,
a ventilator’s bellow-squeeze become
stamp-sized. A city in fog, the skyline wan

from across the bay. If Blake saw flecks of sand
as worlds, what trapped infinities of ones
and zeroes might populate these X-dimensions
summoned by a cardinal chirp of light?
Never mind the snapped-on patient ID bracelet,
the IV needle’s pinch as it descends.

Never mind how many hands have touched, dear friend,
your pulse, how the isolation gown-strings slip
open as you grope in and out of sleep.
Aware or not of what the RN says,
you wouldn’t want even these sentences
catching you so prone. Forgive what words offend.

All message and no art, a means of meaning,
tight-lipped and bristly as a sutured mouth,
it can’t deceive. Nor can it tell the truth,
containing multitudes, mute catalogs
dense as baleen, thin as a centipede’s legs,
charred grove of matchsticks after rain still steaming.

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author most recently of Every Hour Is Late (Measure Press 2019). New poems and essays are forthcoming in Hopkins Review, Southern Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches creative writing and American literature at Indiana University East.
Brian Brodeur

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Author: Brian Brodeur

Brian Brodeur is the author most recently of Every Hour Is Late (Measure Press 2019). New poems and essays are forthcoming in Hopkins Review, Southern Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches creative writing and American literature at Indiana University East.