Volume 14 • Number 2 • Fall-Winter 2022-2023

Rachel Barton

The Body Speaks

—a public service announcement

To be in a body is to feel aches and pains.
Some require an intervention—Calgon or a magical
mystery tour--anything to take you away.
Others, like the remnants of a disturbing dream
in which you are being chased by yourself
as a very hairy, long-armed gorilla, fade into
daily activity when you wake: hello, it’s me—
you don’t feel so bulky, your arms, once again,
as properly proportioned as a Michelangelo.

Don’t blame the body for carrying pain. It’s just
doing its job. I know you live in the world of electrons
where the subtle layers expand and compress
out of time and space, but your physical body
records every stress your day imposes like a needle
cutting into vinyl. ­Who knows where the time goes?
That tease of a mouse at your desk will run up your
arm and into your neck if you let it. The drama
on the telly, the news—skip that. You can skip that.

You are not just a body. But the body has a lot
to tell you, many messages to transmit to you,
which are sometimes coded in the language of
pain and always the language of love. Your greatest
hits. As the body reaches for verité, it helps you
reach for balance. If you don’t listen, the messages
will likely become stronger-- the Moss People
on the roof’s edge grow fatter; our bodies
count on so many tomorrows.

Sometimes it’s worth it to override the guardrails
of your bumper-car-life, to chase the exuberance.
The paybacks are not so bad, you say to yourself.
It’s the weekend, I can rest tomorrow. You’ve been
to sea before. Like a vessel of clay, the body remembers
every slight, every off-center wobble, which may
rise to your body consciousness on a timetable
all its own, origins unknown to you or, like a song
from an earlier life, long forgotten.

Because He Made Me Do It

—after e e cummings

anyone grew up in a how now cow town
wishing for something other than corn
but corn was a king thing anyone knew it grew
under skies of blue the whole year through

no squares with ‘airs’ lived there only circles
sometimes purple sometimes pink it made you think
you had options but anyone knew corn was king
that’s all everyone would bring to the table

anyone on the brink of a discovery found
themselves on a rooftop ledge no sound
just the corn silk whispers for miles around what
a thing to jump up and go down to the upfloating ground

somewhere beyond is hard to see in a corn maze
so deep but someone did and it was crazy man
really looney can you keep a tune going in your head
so long that somewhere becomes somehow here?

someone’s ears are burning I’m pretty sure
but there’s a cure no worries just pull them off
the grill before they char totally like anyone’s
mother could care I mean would share

‘cuz everyone knows corn is king

Rachel Barton is a poet, editor, and writing coach. She edits her own Willawaw Journal and is associate editor for Cloudbank magazine. This is the Lightness, her full-length collection (Poetry Box) is about to launch in September of this year. Her more recent works have been published in CIRQUE, The Poeming Pidgeon, Main Street Rag, and Moon City Review. For more information, please go to