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Gene Barry is a true captain of language his new book Flaking the Rope. Barry welcomes us on-board his international odyssey of place and persona, where even in the direst circumstance, hope pulls speaker, subject, and reader through to another path – as woken tractors that are feeding fields, where the body is the instrument and recipient for both disease and song. Barry shares that sacred music in lyrical prescient language, dousing and drifting us through seas of detached understanding.

      Anne Elezabeth Pluto author of Lubbock Electric

Weight 5 oz

Read excerpts

The brown
almost red rocks
had been sleeping
in the pile
the neighbours
had remarked on
for years
families of them
waiting their turn
to be slotted into
a wall
or a flowerbed
a traditional outhouse

I take the rough ones
with sharp edges
that cut
they can’t help it
can’t change
and I nurse them
in between
the beautifully rounded
lovely to rub ones
I point them
with my trowel
make them admirable

They have strange voices
that speak to me
on Friday nights
when their words
drift into our bedroom
settling on my pillow
pick me I hear first
then no me me me

I can never take sides
or chances
so I reach
behind me smiling
slap on a trowel
of mortar
before I introduce
my choice
to their lifetime partners
and then I say
to my dead father
pick me me me
and I see him
on numerous building sites
with his chin up
inspecting just like
a poet
exactly the same age
as myself
on an imaginary stage
chin up
in front of an audience
of his choice
automatically selecting
their favourites
from his numerous collections
and I hear the rocks
sing to each other
the in between stones
no one ever looks at
look at me me me

Finally I recite
The Clothes Line
my 4th class teacher
sent me to read
for all the other classes
just 9
and terrified
from not being able
to figure out
they would clap
for me
the runt
of the litter
who will keep
this forever

My Tyro

Come away with me mother,
out of your tongue’s range
and help me build a spine to hold
your indifferent broadcasts.
Lift the veil that is transference
and witness me one man,
a nomad with ringing ankles
randomly drifting
in a famine of openness.
Open your senses my tyro
and see me, one father
one son, one target.

Is there not an unarmed Jesus
lurking in your emotional doorway
waltzing with seasoned boredom,
basking beneath degrees
without parchments?
Nike’s un-shuffled deck
sadly sits with prickly wings;
you’ve picked a bitter pedagogue
to recite to the flock.

About the Author

Gene Barry is the author of three collections, the chapbook Stones in their Shoes (2008), Unfinished Business (Doghouse Books, 2013), and Working Days (Authors Press, 2016). In 2010 he edited the anthology Silent Voices, a collection of poems written by asylum seekers living in Ireland. Barry edited the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of The Blue Max Review and Inclusion as part of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival.

Copyright © 2018 Gene Barry

Cover photograph from the collection of Lauren Leja

ISBN 978-1-949279-07-8

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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