Two Poems By Sam Barbee


misplaced horizon, false futures to chase.
my love’s truths perish in corrupted dreams. 
unencumbered cult-lust throbs lacking grace.
her ghosts divine depths of free-flowing stream.

i beg one more waltz, extend open palm.
her slight waist held close, whispers seize, then slip.
beyond my appeal, will replace our calm:
baffled heart found new fidelity’s grip.

awake to this truth, noon tryst on the brink,
grey clouds guillotine, sever oath’s delight.
she sidesteps my glance, keeps a short arm’s length,
rainbow obscured by dark rumors of night. 

overcast evidence why love’s vow dies –
my dove’s wing crippled by zero sum lies.

Leaves pleat the waterway.  
A drawbridge jousts itself, 
allows a sailboat to pass.  
Ripples off the bow.  
Sunrise pastels.  I stand 
poised on the corrugated dam, 
and wave to the captain, 
salute this short life we share.  
Despair’s aft bell chimes.

Ashore, sun-flash on windows
barters truce with pale sky.  
On cleared breakfast tables
fingers dance red & white checked cloth,  
trace to comfort and preach, ignite 
corners where we strive and teach. 
Intimate combustions 
as we pass tipping points
to scour rust, polish tarnish.  

A train grumbles nearby, 
disjoins calm from daybreak.
Today I must re-adjust bindings.  
Unwrap love’s skein.  Redefine
as witnesses tread out 
with neighborly delights, 
bearing lessons – from Nursery, 
from Hospice – to equalize shadows 
hovering gardens dosed with frost.

Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared recently Poetry South, Literary Yard, Asheville Poetry Review, and Adelaide Literary Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals American Diversity Report, Exquisite Pandemic, Verse Virtual, The Voices Project, and Medusa’s Kitchen.

He has a new collection, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag). His previous poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem “The Blood Watch”; and is a Pushcart nominee.

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