Steve Barbaro

So with the thickly throaty, curt finality of a deity
you insist you must sleep upon the lawn,
this May night, upon the residential lawn, that lawn banally
clipped to match the broader sprawl, yeah,
this May night where you insist as such & do so, must
do so, only to wake in the dark to know that the gods exist,
the gods must exist, but in the very way your sleep gets lost upon the lawn.

Or this August night where you insist you can’t not
gaze upon the street, the traffc-heady street not far from
home, & where usually goes a parade of, well, such & such . . .
& not to be antisocial, of course, or a misanthrope, it’s only that
the way you insist you must stare upon the street,
after midnight, & when the street’s deserted, or largely so,
only compels you toward the absent traffc, the not-there sirens & fumes,
behind which the gods must lurk like a kind of smoke beyond smoke.

But why don’t you get to actually ever, like, glimpse
the gods? Or why can’t you ever, like, hear their
steps? Could it be because their sense of space
is maybe a sense of space seething across itself at your
expense? I mean something using your lump
sum waywardness discretely, but still hoarding that waywardness,
as if that waywardness might be their evasiveness’s very engine?

So with the draft-drifty, sprawly chitchat of a non-deity
you insist you must deny the very existence of gods,
this November night, & in the cozy space of your home, yeah,
your home that simulates a world absolutely & completely
your own, & your own so much that that space
drunken with your god-toward guffawing becomes
a space so dense with your you-ness as to coerce the now
here now of the very thing you are proclaiming is gone.

Steve Barbaro is a writer whose poems have appeared in The Common, New American Writing, Web Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, and Denver Quarterly.
Originally published:
November 1, 2017


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like

Trading Riffs to Slay Monsters

From a new collaboration on life under COVID-19
Yusef Komunyakaa
Laren McClung


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.