Barbara Wuest holds an MFA from University of California, Irvine. Her poems have been published in Wisconsin Academy Review, The Paris Review, The Cape Rock, Dogwood, Western Ohio Journal, CrossCurrents, Cincinnati Poetry Review, Laurel Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Oberon and others. She has a chapbook, Among Others, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
As a child I watched with all our neighbors as
a warehouse burned large one evening in fall.
Flames climbed up to the sky as if they would
singe the stars and blacken the big round moon.
Fear came alive in my knees, my shoulders, my
hands, and it set up shop in my unshaped mind.
I have it now to use as I might when someone
strikes at an over-burdened nerve, laying me out
so I can't stand up for the fight or the awful fire.
Cool sunny fall is everywhere I look and the last
days of green turn me toward the lost who have
led me back home where ending solemnly begins.
I come to the ghostly door, stop on the bottom
step and gather my past like the long lacy train
of a dress the wearer I serve parades through
the halls of the palace where excess is supreme.
Weakening with each step up to the royal chair
I lose control and tumble like a red-nosed clown.
Rubber Capitol of the World
I was nearly through being seven.
A new playground and more kids than
I had ever stood among.
Something burned all the time.
And the foul smell meant money
was being made by their dads.
My own newly dead, I thought
only of the space on the ground,
the room I had between my feet
and theirs. Often they would
step into the area I'd reserved.
I was not sad. I was not,
not then. Not for anyone.
Akron had a man's sound,
citied and strange. I came
from a town. A soft say
on your lips, someone's name.