Barry Ballard: Two Poems
African Sleeping Sickness | Gardening Pieces of the Sky
African Sleeping Sickness
Patients are overcome by such extreme torpor that eating, speaking, walking
or even opening the eyes call for an insurmountable effort.
The Sun rises with distinct indecision
today, with a cloud-like hand already
pressing its throbbing forehead. There is a numb
ache, a deep aside of worry buried
in every jointed tuck and wrinkle
of the leather-like landscape. This is the entombed
early phase, surfacing from the wide spill
of light from all its Africa moons.
Already the parasites swim the deep
red Amazon memory circling the brain,
infesting the coordination of love's
embrace, confusing the heart's wind that sweeps
it into dreams, misfiring the neurons that name
the familiar sounds we think we've never heard.
Gardening Pieces of the Sky
I start this morning by raking the stone-
like face of hope, not just cracking last year's
dreams, but pressing deep into the fear
that buried itself under them. I'm alone
here (as I should be), surrounded by the tools
and armor that will free us both from our
slavery. There are pieces of the sky cowered
inside the signs of burrowing, deeds once ruled
out as "impossible" that have arranged
my past into carved out hollows. But today
I follow Shakespeare as the carver gutting
out his own way, climbing the ladder made
of nothing but shadow as I anchor
a new lattice for the growth and cuttings.
Barry Ballardís poetry has most recently appeared in The Evansville Review,
Blue Mesa, Louisiana Literature, and The Florida Review. His most recent
published collections: First Probe to Antarctica (Bright Hill Press Award
for 2001) and Plowing to The End of The Road (Finishing Line Press Award for
2002 and nominated for the Pushcart Prize).