Poems by Nicholas Barnes

dearly departed
             By Nicholas Barnes

deer, sows,
rams, lambs, elk,

chicks, toms, roosters,
hens, hogs, and halibut:
i wish i could say
these words
didn’t concern you,
that this is a poem
about creatures wild and free;

that i never passed you
from fork to stomach
through this shameful
graveyard vessel;

that i have never
seen you as food;

that i have never torn
into you, your flesh,
or your lives.

i wish i could say
it didn’t take me 23 years
to realize i am carnage incarnate,

to realize i’m better off
sticking with what
i can pull from the soil myself.

to the children, the fathers,
the mothers i ate,
how i wish i could return
what i have taken from you.

but it’s too late, i’m guilty,
i’m condemned for these crimes.

and all i can say is
i’m sorry.

             By Nicholas Barnes

That seafood advertisement
lures my curious steps
toward a shop closed
on this red letter day.

Behind the counter:
the sound of running water
falling into a black tank of
Dungeness in paralysis,
waiting to be boiled alive.

I want to scoop them up and
toss each one to the Columbia
so they can find their way home.

No one’s around, really.
But sadly I see the cameras.

back to work

             By Nicholas Barnes

common grocery sights:

dead fish carcasses.
quartered, snoutless pigs.

bred, skinned,
wrapped, bagged.

limbs hacked off,
rubbed with spices.

whole birds flayed,
buttered, spatchcocked.

but a lepus fluffle
laid to rest
in the butcher aisle,
heads and legs intact,

now that’s different.

young rabbits,
rigor set,
looking like
mid-hop sans fur.

a sticker reads,
we had their welfare in mind.

- Nicholas Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Oregon University. He is currently working as an editor in Portland, and enjoys music, museums, movie theaters, and rain. His poems have been accepted by Platform Review, Mortal Mag, and Barzakh, among others.

Copyright©2022 by Nicholas Barnes. All Rights Reserved.