On Broad Sound · Rusty Barnes

On Broad Sound · Rusty Barnes

Welcome to Rusty Barnes’ Revere, a seaside city on the outer bounds of Boston. In On Broad Sound, we’re whisked through the Springsteen-like backstreets; through the bakeries and beach fronts; through Shirley Street and city hall and invited to pull up a stool at The Shipwreck Bar. And our guide is a big “bear” of a family man, one whose big heart “breeds [love] in the open spaces of [his] being.” — Nathan Graziano, author of Hangover Breakfasts and My Next Bad Decision


Excerpts from On Broad Sound

I Love You, Satori

On a bus to the Northgate
Shopping Center I’m stuck
next to a porcine transit
cop. Every button on his
uniform strains. I wonder why
he’s there. Then I realize
it’s not fat it’s a Kevlar jacket
under his clothes. I feel badly
for a moment because I am fat.
I go out the folding door.
A swallow delicately sips
from a puddle. I am still fat.


Northgate Shopping Center (a rant)

Don’t go there in a snowstorm,
the piles of snow will go higher
than your car and every clueless
git thinks he or she
can navigate it. For a bunch of New
Englanders these fuckers can’t
drive to save themselves, 4-Runners
rocketing off into the side
of the McDonald’s drive-through
motherfuckers in KIA’s sliding like ducks
on ice with everybody driving the
wrong way up the lanes next
to the CVS. All I need is the med-
icine I have to have to operate
in this world to begin with. What
I want is the sweet neck of your
average beer bottle. I’d stick my
tongue down its glassy throat
for just a hint of oblivion.


The Marsh at Midday

Every time I visit the Belle Isle Marsh
I feel like a six foot two 300 pound target.
No crime takes place there that I can see
But any time I walk into the reeds I expect
to see a body or a rape taking place. Before
I had this feeling we buried my daughter’s
dead hamster Brownie there under six
inches of loam and a rock pyre
in memoriam. My daughter didn’t know
better so I went with my ace plan
at the burial: I recited from the Tibetan
Book of the Dead. O soul of Brownie
as you confront the endless void. . .
Then I forgot where I was and had to start
again at the beginning while inside I thought
Brownie you stinking offal in your expensive
cage I am reciting this because my daughter
does not know how to lose you and is chirping
back tears and even as I speak I do not
know how to lose her among these endless
alphabets of rock and starshine and tears
so I stand here in the marsh and gibber
silently to myself years after the fact in
this place I fear for both what it holds
and what may happen, neither of which
I can control.


The Poet John Wieners

I once saw John Wieners declaiming
poems in a soft but strong voice out-
side the Harvard Gardens in the rear
corner of the Back Bay. It had to be

near midnight and at that point I
didn’t know he was John Wieners
he was another homeless nut in
a city filled with them. We’d gone

outside for some air but my compadres
and I quit our jiving around
and listened to him recite a poem
I can only claim to witness as a tiny

poetic moment in his life. He didn’t
know me which is fine as poets don’t
have to reveal themselves to me just
because I want them to in my poem.

We listened at the bar as the man
made our drinks. I happened to be
drinking only Kamikazes then. I
didn’t really know anything else

to order besides rum and coke
and beer. My 2nd year of grad school
kicked the country boy out of me
in these social situations. I didn’t

know what I was doing there but John
Wieners always knew what he was
doing. He was a poet whatever company
he was in. I’m still learning that now

twenty-two years later as I knock
back rye and think of an old man
reciting his works to a bar full of
stupid kids like me. Goddamn it.

I should have bought him a drink.


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Rusty Barnes

Rusty Barnes grew up in rural Appalachia but has lived in East Boston and Revere, MA for the past twenty years with his wife, poet Heather Sullivan, and their family. He’s published his work in more than two hundred journals and anthologies. His poetry chapbooks include Redneck Poems and Broke, and his full-length poetry collection, I Am Not Ariel, appeared in 2013. His latest novel is Knuckledragger.


Copyright © 2016 Rusty Barnes

Cover photograph by Lauren Leja

ISBN 978-0-692-80593-0

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.


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