J.T. Barbarese

No Selfies For Mary & Pater Noster
August 23, 2019 Barbarese J.T.


In the mausoleum shadow, eye-mopping mother, O Mary,
married to the carpenter, living in alienation in an unfurnished studio, cable wheels for
chairs, wine crates for bookshelves, bare floors and tools underfoot,
no fun, this life, whether kid-encumbered or (now) kid-less and lonely,
no husband around when your only child is executed, carpenter Joe, a typical Joe, too
busy to show up in the Stations or on the holy cards,
O full of grace and all-loving what never loved back,
for his love was for the forest and not the trees, it was global, not local,
tell me

whose Kleenex, Mar’, whose tissues, whose bright black pumps,
whose missal, whose limo, whose purse, whose dress, whose compact,
whose mother when you become that macabre Other, a Virgin Mother,
whose black death suit, whom sue and who to press the suit?

Behold the phone-pointers, hangers-on fanning themselves with mass cards, behold the
pants suits and pinstripes,
funeral director hand-rubbing and converging, handing out maps to Holy Cross,
relatives queuing for the final rose-chuck, four pall bearers, two cousins and two
strangers with beefy shoulders, bursting out of their suits, lifting shovels,
a fist of earth on each shiny tongue,
behold the drivers whispering Where are his [expletive] friends, where’s his old man,
smell the mix of diesel and honeysuckle, stale aromatics trapped in the limos, and
remember the sexual odor of newly cut grass,
that kid, somebody’s nephew, with earbuds leaning on the new headstone,
that hammer-knife parked in the distance, the driver having a smoke, chin in his palm


—after Prévert

Our Father That art in Heaven
Stay there
Who are the power and the glory etcetera
We’re fine
You and your so-called heaven
We don’t need your help
Once you’ve seen Paris or New York or even Vegas
Heaven is ho-hum
Once you have lived in a body, had mumps, extractions
Credits and debits
Good and bad
No need for fatwas and bulls and your Ten Negations
Paradise is so Disney
The Fall was the best thing ever next to
Leaning on the rail of the boardwalk
Eating popcorn taking pictures sweating
Her beside me
We are wild fallen and miserable
We have fallen into ourselves
The one I see
Green eyes long limbs good mouth
We are sleeping in on Sunday
Don’t make any noise

J.T. Barbarese‘s last book of poems is True Does Nothing. Forthcoming later this year is After Prévert, a translation of selected poems from Jacques Prévert’s Paroles.