Willis Barnstone

willis hidden


Mags ask for a 50-word bio
My confession reads

Born in Lewiston Maine   city of gay Marsden Hartley
grand painter   Like Marsden I get

lost in Paris   Come back 5 years later   after
Greece   Andalusia   London

Soldier in Korean War (stationed in France)
I like to write sonnets.


A Letter to My Soul

I write a letter to my soul
thinking in me where I can’t see,

if she will kindly make me whole
or shut her mouth and let me be.

Pink star, she lights the evening dark,
bringing the sheep and farmer home.

She sets and renders Sappho stark
and sleepless like her island foam,

but stoic Sappho and her friends
compose a heart and warm her cot.

My soul is laughing as I send
confusion to her ear. Her thought

seems mimicry to me. I need
her brain. A letter to my soul

I write. She drops me like a bead.
Dead is my plea to make me whole.


Tyranny of Art

Tonight I’m free. I didn’t die or write.
No all-nighter Delilah blinded me.
My eyes don’t burn like Satan’s grill.  When light
rolls with the globe to blaze the cherry tree
and cause the moles and worms to underground,
I rest in dream. A slave of Morpheus, Hell,
I won’t be hanged at dawn for being found
out of uniform in a dim hotel.
Yet the shrewd roulette game of art once more
cons me. I scrawl verse in a leopard pit
when this beast hungers for his sleep. A whore
again of words, I slip into my clothes
and hit the street, selling my mind and wit
for tinkling song my body loves or loathes.



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