Poems from Barb Reynolds


I don’t want to end up

like I started: dependent,

naked, eyes sealed shut. Because,

they weren’t kidding—whether

Electra or Oedipus, we do end up

marrying one parent or the other.

Because I don’t trust myself—

I can barely resist the dark draw

of your skin and your smell,

when the air moves just right.

Because wondering where you are

while I sit alone

isn’t how I pictured things.

Because every day at work

I tell women all the reasons

they deserve to stand up for themselves

and I won’t be a hypocrite. Because,

as you were asking me to believe you

after the first slip-up, you were

crossing fingers, looking for chances.

Because, as you were forgetting my worth,

I was remembering.

The Bird

My friend’s middle finger

is stuck in a perpetual fuck you

one souvenir of the accident.

The bright side: she’s always prepared

if someone pisses her off.

Motoring to a fashion show, a Hummer

smashed through, flattening her roof

like tin foil. She lay tangled in a welter

of silk and metal, crepe and dashboard.

I tell her, Most would be bitter,

coming back with a sluggish leg,

one unruly eye, and that eternal

flip of the bird.

She tells me, All of life’s gifts

are flowers in my garden— as she smiles

and gives me the finger.

Two Rosaries and a Pair of Shoes

The flight attendant passes out hot towels

for our hands, and the bald guy in front of me

wipes his entire head with it. Smiling, I glance

down and, in the light from the plane window,

notice a faint indentation on my finger

where my wedding ring wrapped itself

for ten years. Four years removed and I can still

see it, in just the right light, on a plane to Boston,

behind a bald man’s clean and shiny head. I listen

to Rachmaninoff, Opus 23, on my headphones

as we pass through nothing but white.

The man next to me spits food on my scarf

as he introduces himself, and we both act

like it didn’t happen—I don’t ask him anything

when dessert comes. A voice comes over the PA,

asking if anyone claims a bag

containing two rosaries and a pair of shoes.

No one presses their button, and, assuming

it’s someone from the previous flight, I wonder

if the person who owns those things

realizes they are making their way without them.

About Barb Reynolds

Barb Reynolds was an emergency response child abuse investigator for 22 years. Her chapbook Boxing Without Gloves was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared in various journals, most recently, CALYX, Poet Lore, POEM, Mudfish, WomenArts Quarterly Journal (Oct), and Roanoke Review (Dec). Barb is the curator of the Britt Marie Poetry Series in Albany, CA. She is currently working on a biography and documentary called Auntie Mark.


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