Two Poems by Wallace Barker

You Can Count on Me

the drunken mess of my little brother
dragging him home in the night away
from the party he had become militantly
comical screaming in the faces
of other party guests and laughing
in a strangely glottal way i had never
really heard from him before
his breath humid with beer
and wet cigarette butts
his torn military jacket faded

from its former olive
into an indefinite tan
i love him this is the brother i love
in the night on our walk back to my house
beneath streetlamps he rants about the supposed
superiority of the other people at the party
he keeps referring to it as their “excelsior”
he keeps repeating this but i’m not sure
exactly what he means and he wears
oversized plastic glasses you might see
on a bootcamp private in a war movie
his blonde hair is receding and wispy
i put my arm around him and squeeze
even as my senses recoil… i’m completely sober
he stops yelling and gives me a kiss
on the ear
missing my cheek
this brother who i love in the misty dark night

Wild Life

Given the blue sky and bright sun
all the green leaves twisting gently
in the breeze it seems impossible not 
to be overcome by heart stopping anxiety
feels as if almost nothing in my life
is right or meaningful maybe it is the aluminum
in my brain from industrial society and i should
drink silica water to cleanse my body of heavy metals
maybe i have been drinking too much alcohol and
this is a type of delayed hangover mechanism
of subtle body chemistry the mourning dove go
from branch to ground and ground to branch
it doesn’t seem as if there is any purpose really
the heart wants everything for a time and then
it wants everything to go away.

Wallace Barker lives in Austin, Texas. He has been published in Neutral Spaces Magazine, Reality Hands, Soft Cartel and forthcoming from Expat Press and Misery Tourism. More of his work can be found at

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