Poetry / Poets

3 poems by Sam Barbee


In the future I will forgive
my uncelebrated self
for offense I am yet to do:
un-touch her in those awkward ways,
heal the scars that still blot past days.

At dusk, I will lean into sad songs,
appeasing the moments when
I ignored her final whisper:
glass flask bobbing on cheated sea,
re-hearing disregarded plea.

My palate must ripen a taste
for isolation as I suppress her flavor,
dismiss all zest of our favorite dish:
un-yearn the tang of moonlit skin,
never savor sting of spiced sins.

I shall stuff my house with flowers,
pungent garden, yet never displacing
her giddy breath and nape:
un-breathe naked sighs still staining,
depose perfumes yet remaining.

My eyes must close, sealed against
beseeching vision upright by
the bed where we lost our senses:
un-crush the pillow in my face.
specter crowding this empty space.

But I have no armor, no potion
no re-booted refrain to dismiss
the farewell of your windblown scarf:
un-incant moments tempting fate
you might return home where I wait.

To The East

Night sky has wept into the harbor.
Its whisper prances beneath a breeze.
Wake illuminated by starlight christens.
Each swell laps the dock’s pilings.
We inhale the briny night waltzing
a channel marker, red strobe piercing calm
and overwhelms twinkle refracted on water
while we know never waits on the turn of a smile.

A single gull wails. Your hair is honey.
It intoxicates vows validated in sunlight,
twists shadows moored about our hearts.
We mange smiles through intense moments,
attempting to overlook what buoys before us,
yet make no efforts to cut loose this vessel,
both considering the lucid current for passage
because we know never crests on the touch of a breath.

Beneath the silent Martin’s roost, back to back,
we dare not face these stars alone. My arm spans
your shoulder and draws you nearer to forever.
I curse any contemptuous dawn that dare
expose those dark distances between us,
and welcome this tremble, consenting passion
glides atop the moment where we cannot drift
believing we know never is tethered to daybreak’s sting.

Promises, Promises

On the porch table where we dine
through summer, Sunday pages
of unread newspaper curl in breeze.
our King James Version rests
on the marble kitchen counter.
Books, places marked with small paper
or rainbow ribbon, await the next evening
when labors and conversations wane.

We gaze about, pretending to be engaged
by quotes from phrases we now surrender.
Unlike many things we have started,
these, like pledges and prayers, lay
patient and kind, all reconsidered
before sleep. Content to hasten a new day,
we integrate with what has fallen short,
here with ferns wilting in the corner,

forfeited leaves about the floor. Misplaced
vigor droops around us, weighted and
wondering if we have abandoned this moment’s
final option as nightfall summons us,
bound by set aside verdicts once proffering
a chance to heal. Light cuisine or passion:
either hunger would gratify as we linger here,
searching for a rousing hue in sunset’s ebb.


One thought on “3 poems by Sam Barbee

  1. Sam Barbee was awarded an “Emerging Artist’s Grant” from the Winston-Salem Arts Council in 1994. His poems have been accepted by Atlantis, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, Potato Eyes, Wellspring, Georgia Journal, Mount Olive Review, St. Andrews Review, Charlotte Poetry Review, Negative Capability, Pembroke Magazine, Lone Wolf Review, and Windhover: a journal of Christian Literature. In the spring of 1999, he was the highlighted poet in Independence Boulevard in Charlotte.

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