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3 poems by Jack Barker-Clark



Heart Madrigal


I mist snake plants and google the lifespan of sparrows

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from biblical angles my pelvis resembles a coup

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now that I have cut my hair, my skull brings forth its ancient embarrassment

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I have waited thirty five years for this casserole to matter

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the blood remembers études and moves accordingly with rubato

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having never licensed elaboration, I have organised a trial

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not a murmur – just a long finish

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the heart that answers back




Anything But Endocarditis


bleacher mills, landlocked cloth

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the firmness of a bristle strip

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resurfacing but not of roads

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thick fir, buckled pulse

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a plague on these composite towns

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bright, unequivocal song

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swamp reeds over thorax, a desert glow

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full body, fruit-forward

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boys sulking like a moon

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straw-yellow, the signature notes

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the sweetest blandishing plasma



The First Murmur


was dipped in orange trunks, indecision

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underwater, a little kingdom of shadows

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bathed in shallow oxygen, in sapphire

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struggling with the drag, chopping – at reservoir, at heath

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plucked down quickly like just another liquid

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the water closing around it like a fist

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and the shingle still twinkled, and the rind was astonishing

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and the sunlight still hurt

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jagged digestifs to the clouds that chimed

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the chamber music of all panic – spangling my ribcage like an oath


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Jack Barker-Clark is a writer from a valley in West Yorkshire. His stories and poems have appeared in 3:AM, Ninth Letter, The London Magazine, Prototype and elsewhere.

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