Tag Archives: Ed Barrett

All Souls’ Day

by Ed Barrett


I used to feel like that yesterday
made me laugh when Kenny Powers
played by Danny McBride
in Eastbound and Down
said that line in last night’s repeat
as I was clicking around
trying to fall asleep.
He was supposed to be sympathizing with someone,
but he said it without pausing between words
so it came off as bragging.

I hate going to bed,
these little death rehearsals.
I’d give Eastbound and Down another shot sometime,
but not like I’m going to.

Today is All Souls’ Day
and I’ve gotten a lot
out of watching TV.
I just love it
and did from the unremembered
moment I first started watching it
because who wants to live all the time
in real life?
Most of life is made up anyway,
forget about it, you like this,
you like that,
and that’s your life.

TV showed me
how to phrase a lyric
like you were thinking out loud,
how in a disaster
people were supposed to run away from
the exponential cloud
stampeding them buffalo-style
down the all too narrow street.
I saw a farmer in western Ireland
run across a lane to save his cow
and he ran with his arms by his sides
like he had never watched TV.

It taught me if I was in World War II
my nickname
would be Brooklyn or Irish,
safe nicknames
that wouldn’t get shot,
that I don’t call my
Sargeant “Sargeant”
only Sarge,
and that my street smarts—
“Gimme that car antenna,”—
in the hills of Sicily
saves some of my platoon before
the commercial break,
camera tracking in,
a two-shot Pietà:
“Sarge, it’s me, Brooklyn.”

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With A Practiced Flick Of Her Toe Dawn Shies Her Champagne-Lace Panties At Your Lagging Oath Rope Heart

linquens Aurora cubile
Virgil, Georgics, I. 447
by Ed Barrett


All Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley can do is hope this is not another fake carp he wrestles with beneath the waterfall in the lobby of the Boston Mandarin Oriental Hotel, financed by David K. Drumm, fugitive CEO of the Anglo-Irish Bank of Dublin, the Cardinal’s recognition that memory is fate, his oblique Latin slashing spider after spider of illusion, his quest for something solid as a high school class ring which Earth Spider had conjured in his time machine, evil or not, visiting an AP English Class, Richard Ellmann’s dying Oscar Wilde on the supplementary reading list.

Raw Yellow

admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum
Virgil, Georgics, IV.3
by Ed Barrett


A bee stung me on top of my head when I was a kid playing soldiers in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It left a ping-pong ball size bump my mother saw when I came home.

She made me take a bath.

My mother feared “bugs,” anything that flew, crept or crawled. If you lived in a tenement and wanted to keep things nice and not be called shanty Irish, you could see her logic.

One mosquito and she’d pump Flit through our two-room apartment, poison sifting down like it had all the time in the world.

I wasn’t in her crosshairs, but, pesticidally speaking, how good can you aim that stuff?

The New York Times said a pesticide called neonicotinoids, nicknamed “neonics” by farmers, is killing bees and raising prices at Whole Foods.

What does it mean when farmers have nicknames for pesticides?

I have a mental defect—probably from all that Flit—where I don’t really see or hear what I’m supposed to. I translate for my immediate amusement, a mosquito-thin eternity of private dysfunction too narrow for a chubby bee to enter.

I read neonics as neocons, pleased to turn Cheney and Rumsfeld into poisin.

And let’s not forget Obama’s drones.

Back in college, that big fat hive of blubbery time (which is its solemn gift) I made peace with bugs. I was tired of swatting, stomping, worrying.

Bugs understood my invisible decision. No longer did they bite me as I lay reading on the summer grass in the backyard at Cronkhite on Ash Street, a neighbor’s black Lab named Candy sleeping next to me, and a bee, now and then, resting on my bare toe.

Bees have cold feet.

And it’s something to be young and, you know, just loosely threaded with poison.

Smith and 9th

by Ed Barrett


I’d like to swim in this canal, sideways like a blue claw crab

condom flecked
                               oil sheen
                                               soul

Above my desk is a print, La Fuite en Egypte
Joseph’s arms have turned into pine cones

How toxic is it
               Egypt
               grace
               Gowanus

an oasis
turning an old man’s arms into pine cones

a blue claw crab
guiding Mary sideways down Smith St.

Cocktail Napkin Sonnets

by Ed Barrett


talking religion
at Grafton
Street,
chocolatey
Guinness and
martinis, not
chocolate
martinis
which are
real killers
ourselves
alone
and God
is great

sandwiches
are delicious
the body
is delicious
to the soul
which we
cannot see
or feel
and know
as we know
a lady pushing
a stroller
and NewsCenter
5

God sees it
all at once
OK fine
but maybe
we’ve got
an edge
who see it
playing out
one at a time
Fenway Park
Big Papi
and everyone
reaching up
for the ball

At NewsCenter5
“you either have it
or you don’t”
and what if
you could connect
a movie You’ll
probably think about
it over time
but now there’s
no time
to think or
act like you
are more
than this

your father
is father
beyond
choice and
children of
God
Jerry
Remy says
their hands
reach out
from the
Dunkin’ Donut
seats
on NESN

veins
offering
crumbs of
oxygen under
my skin
this body
feeding itself
thinking
what have I
forgotten
what have I
lost
when am I
thine

I think
you should
have tremendous
respect
and wonder
about money
always because
well thank
you they
grow without
much trouble
and whisper
in your ear
Allah

Shannon Airport

by Ed Barrett


Mary, after years mourning Jesus, plots revenge on his Roman killers as Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises won’t forgive Batman for killing her father in between fits of sleep on my flight to Shannon with thanks to Xanax.

When I land at Shannon I like peeing against the porcelain slab covering the lower part of a wall in the “Gents,” its sinks on little islands spaced far apart in the middle of the room, changing booths along another wall; even a shower. Someone understood human filth and dignity when they designed this toilet, better than the men’s room at Legal Seafood in Harvard Square where urinals are like oversized eye-wash cups, two measly eye-wash pee-cups separated by a divider the size of a bat wing, 10-inch video screens above them playing ESPN highlights, grainy pixels, blurry images and video-feed lag times, brush strokes of color in a miniature Renaissance painting.

Mary can’t be played by Marion Cotillard because she’s too attractive. I’d want an actress like Susan Hayward with her later, weathered beauty.  She resembled my mother and her sisters and half-sisters whose youthful beauty, when they’d look into a mirror, must have felt like something they at least could claim in a life of the usual movie plot of poverty, abuse and drink.  Ida Lupino would be perfect even though I can’t watch her because she puts me into a mild depression like other movie and TV stars too numerous to name:  Chaplin, Rod Serling, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Dionne Warwick, Art Linkletter, The Peter Gennaro Dancers on  The Ed Sullivan Show, Ed Sullivan, Jimmy Durante, Red Skelton, Don Wilson, George Gobel, Peggy Lee, Robert Young, Donna Reed, Dale Evans, Buddy Ebsen, the later Dick Van Dyke, the sons in “My Three Sons,” Katie Couric, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Bacon, Pinky Lee, Topo Gigio, Ben Affleck, Merv Griffin, and especially Ronald Coleman who never makes eye contact with co-stars; he’d be good playing Pilate, not asking anyone in particular “What is truth?” as he leans over a basin of water to wash his hands, shot from behind, his face mirrored on the surface of the water, looking into his own eyes.

And what’s so blasphemous about showing Mary’s love for her child as a revenge story? Bill Donahue’s Catholic League will attack the movie.  Some nuns might defend it. Mary doesn’t get her due, spiritualized, objectified.  My pitch is based on a medieval legend that Jesus was conceived when Mary had an affair with a Roman soldier and Jesus spent his life trying to forgive his mother, his desire not to forgive her sin eating into his will to forgive her, desire holding the mirror up to theology.  The point is, he inherited this conflict of needs and will from Mary struggling now between avenging or forgiving his killers, her arms spread out at her hips, palms up, the hem of her blue robe as it opens onto white pebbles strewn in confusion at her feet in a Brooklyn garden.

Like a lot of things in Ireland, Shannon Airport can’t support itself and is up for bidding to developers, probably rich Russians because Shannon has had a longstanding partnership with Aeroflot as an Atlantic stopover, government deals a kind of grace, US troop transports secretly refueling at Shannon from Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers bigger than life in desert camo walking through duty free shops against windows that give on to postage-stamp size green fields, avenging archangels drained of eggy Renaissance reds and blues, their khaki-colored combat boots the color of Gerritsen Beach sand and landfill, the canal at high tide, blue claw crabs on pilings as sea water splashes up between dock boards, waterfront Brooklyn where Irish and Italian NYPD and firefighters live in affordable cottages they winterized, boat bar-hopping from The Tamaqua to The Wharf on Far Rockaway in center-console power boats juiced with 200 hp silver Honda outboard engines, their flared white fiberglass hulls full of grace and the fruit of design software belling out saltily across Jamaica Bay.

“Gerritsen Beach” is a good title for my movie about Mary.