A Pretext for Painting Flowers


— after Jonathan Barbieri

Almost clinical, the way it’s splayed out
On that table, gills dripping from the heave
And drag, and then the tail—

At least what can be glimpsed between
The shadows—warm, still attached,
Though later wrapped and sold, another day.

I hate it here. This gallery a fun box 
Of our fury, our folly, each brand of terror
And destruction: here, a son whips

A torque wrench at his father, strikes against
The temple, and there—hung beside the door—
A German soldier readies his grenade. 

Ruttish. Hypocritical. A smear of rib juice
On the lower lip. A guy who’s missed
His station, slinking through the tiled corridors,

The throng of traffic at Chapultepec,
A wet fedora and my breath hot on the glass. 
Look at me: no better cast than they.

Back out on the plaza, dogs prowl.
An Aztec warrior dances to a drum.
No wonder more wonderful than man.

Severed off from reason, compassion,
God grew vile and consumptive.
The rain falls. Pink worms brighten the dirt.

Jason Barry holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Oxford and an MFA in Poetry from Boston University. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, 32 Poems, The Cortland Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Bad Lilies, Crab Creek Review, Poet Lore, Thrush Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. His forthcoming chapbook, Fossil & Wing (Dos Madres Press), won the 2023 Wil Mills Award at the West Chester University Poetry Center and his poem, “Metro-North,” was selected by Ada Limón to feature on The Slowdown, a podcast supported by the Poetry Foundation. He has been offered artist scholarships and grants from Poetry by the Sea, Boston University, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.