When Alex Holidays Alone
(to a gay lover left)
 
Our bridled gib* purrs
soloing
over manila envelopes
postmarks crushed
where the flush
of stamps spatter –
morose retreats,
ink too dry.
 
Other escapes:
a print from Portugal
in a drain, the wrong blue,
Tynemouth shells
still salty, a few
dusty bottles.
 
By means of glass, shadows,
night,
schismed time
tarmac aqueous in moonlight.
 
Dark scares
a snap in every fern,
tensing crackling trees,
moths wings at windows.
 
*tom cat



 
When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
 
The evening has a thousand pieces
and we and the songs on the radio
are just some of them.
I unbutton his indulgent shirt, submit
a hand, fasten on the left nipple.
Hum the familiar refrain.  We twist
with the lingering purr of music.
 
An hour is a number of heartbeats,
full motion from the car’s heater, a number
of glances.  Being gay, he is tremulous
to prove his devotion openly,
the clatter of jackboots
always expected…above the guitar.
 


 
When You’re Young And In Love
 
On the drophead coupe’s audiofrequency
a Bluegrass dout harmonizes
“we don’t smoke marijuana in Muskokie”.
 
“Dock, dock,” the sky’s voice drops.
On a whiskey-sour night
paranoia stomps
waist-deep over Highway 61.
 
We’ve been to a sit-in rebel-rouse
after a tub-thumping at County Hall
and have a Hillbilly truck-wagon on our butt.
 
Left, the parkway’s a furry skull.
I shoot the bottle to Betty,
mess with the tuner
and spark up the last reefer.
 
 
 
 
WHILE BRYAN EATS CHOCOLATE MIDNIGHT COOKIES
 
A cranium snooze on a crumbly pillow…
frisson of out-of-tempo days,
flag slipshod into a mosaic,
we ferret channels of Amsterdam,
the duet of us, to a Be-Bop lilt,
woozy tints of Vincent.
 
A double-barrelled underground
lugs arch expectations,
toss of cosmopolitan stations,
to the trolleybus,
a zip-shunt journey,
steering the suitcase, a pie-eyed mutt,
we fiddle  into the hotel,
canal-silts, damp air.
 
Natty as barons we swat the itinerary
tumble to slivers settling into glue,
vitrics of hock, reek of skunk,
Havana plays funky refrains.
 
As things are it’s snowdrop February,
an all-thumbs Spring,
glossy days, sprints with our mongrel,
souvenirs hum like Waterlooplein bazaar
under a jet-feathered sky.
 
from the Amsterdam poems

 
 
 © Christopher Barnes, UK

Bio: In 1998 I won a Northern Arts writers award.  In July 2000, I read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology 'Titles Are Bitches.'  On Christmas 2001, I debuted at Newcastle's famous Morden Tower doing a reading of my poems.  Each year I read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and I partake in workshops.  2005 saw the publication of my collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh.
 
 On Saturday 16th August 2003, I read at theEdinburgh Festival as a Per Verse poet at LGBT Centre, Broughton St.
 
I also have a BBC webpage  www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/gay.2004/05/section_28.shtml and http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/videonation/stories/gay_history.shtml (if first site does not work click on SECTION 28 on second site).
 
Christmas 2001, the Northern Cultural Skills Partnership sponsored me to be mentored by Andy Croft in conjunction with New Writing North.  I   made a radio programme for Web FM community radio about my writing group.  October-November 2005, I entered a poem/visual image into the art exhibition The Art Cafe Project, his piece Post-Mark was shown in Betty's Newcastle.  This event was sponsored by Pride on the Tyne.  I  made a digital film with artists Kate Sweeney and Julie Ballands at a film making workshop called Out of the Picture which was shown at the festival party for Proudwords, it contains my poem The Old Heave-Ho.  I worked on a collaborative art and literature project called How Gay Are Your Genes, facilitated by Lisa Mathews (poet) which  exhibited at The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University   funded by The Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute, Bioscience Centre at Newcastle's Centre for Life.  I was  involved in the Five Arts Cities poetry postcard event which exhibited  at The Seven Stories children's literature building.  In May 2006, I had a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People's Theatre. Take a look at their website http://ptag.org.uk/whats_on/gulbenkian/gulbenkian.htm
 
The South Bank Centre in London recorded my poem "The Holiday I Never Had," I can be heard reading it on www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=18456
 
REVIEWS: I have written poetry reviews for Poetry Scotland and Jacket Magazine and in August 2007 I made a film called 'A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot' for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem...see www.myspace.com/queerbeatsfestival