Radical Romance: Two Poems/ Barrett Warner


Sleeping with Maduro


He’s reading his cupped phone. I’m reading a novel.

Like most novels, this one’s about the holocaust.


Dozens of times I’ve offered to read aloud from it.

I want to tell him how weather rains down on lovers.


Yes, he says (in a way that’s asking and telling at once).

I reach for his shoulder but he shakes me off.


He says if he wanted me to touch his shoulder

he would have put his shoulder on my hand.


Neither does he want to listen to stars singing

where the cat gut string guitars meets the sea.


I am so sorry that the holocaust lights my board

but dead composers are much better ghosts in your ear.


Maduro is lying on his back, sand piling up

in the creases where salt drips from the prolapse.


I have secrets and magic and tactful ways to arouse:

I lean. I press. I bump. I urge. I sweat. I witch. I boil.


I read a passage to him where an SS officer smiles

at the natural order of what can’t ever be natural.


In Caracas, the electricity turns on for seven minutes.

Sometimes, we forget and the house lights blind us in bed,


and I realize, instead of swallowing Maduro’s cock,

I’m only tasting a scorpion who crept into my mouth


from the calle.






Drinking Alone with Ernesto Cardenal



Chafing blues and some yellow in the garden,

sharing a bird bath of dark Spanish cave wine

with bachelor cicadas, a few sails of wind

doing all the work of my lungs. I taste it,

wipe my sable-whiskered face in grape,

lick my knuckles, then raising a fist to the square

of light in an upstairs window, I ask the poet

making brilliant love up there to drink with me,

then I sigh inside because he can’t drink—

only wets his lips without swallowing—

and even though I can’t make a tide

or spend a few hours flying over Europe

in search of the perfect espresso, I comfort

myself with his shadow-less smile worth every

howl, choking on my own small-boned alphabet,

and reflect on levitation dance because no loneliness

is impossible. Turning, I find a long line of friendly

crows waiting for their chance to bathe in dark.



bougainpictureBarrett Warner is the author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You? (Somondoco, 2016) and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). Follow him on Twitter @_BarrettWarner.


Send one poem or short prose piece, to rabble.editor@yahoo.com, with the heading RADICAL ROMANCE: [your title]. We can’t wait to read your submissions! 

Header Image: Creative Commons, photo by Cancillería del Ecuador, photo by Jorge Mejía Peralta, modified.




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