Charley Barnes


Listen to the audio version.

Dear Body,
       We are broken again. Minor defects
       that make up a myriad of outward
       and observable problems: the limp,
       the wince, the sheer amount of time
       that everything takes to get done.

Dear Body,
       I've pushed too hard again and you
       have pushed back again. Abusive,
       we are constantly push-pulling to
       see what the other can take but we
       are older now; should be kinder.

Dear Body,
       Although I know I shouldn't,
       I blame you. It's all physical
       after all, and my brain-muscle
       has stretched and flexed and
       you have always buckled under.

Dear Body,
       Maybe it isn't about being kinder;
       maybe by now we should know
       better –know hurt isn't a thing
       to be pushed through, or spur-
       red on by; know pain isn't weak.

Dear Body,
       I'm sorry for blaming you.
       Let's start over, again?

* * *


Listen to the audio version.

Before bed my partner lays out their essentials –
clean underwear, a fresh t-shirt, comfortable jeans.

On the coffee table is our shared hairbrush,
the mirror that shows too many pores, and a note
that says, “Eat breakfast x”.

When my partner leaves, I lay out my essentials –
clean underwear, a fresh dress, twelve spoons.

* * *


Listen to the audio version.

Their handles are weighted and I wonder / whether the occupational department wanted / heavy spoons to make us fully understand / the responsibility of weighing out our energy. / I see what they've done there. / On my tongue I taste the bittersweet irony / of using six spoons to get up, half-showered (washed / my hair at least) and dressed; leave the house / drive here, arrive here for someone to tell me / how protective I should be over my spoons. / They give us cutlery to take home and tell / us to keep them somewhere in sight, in case / we forget that our limbs have been lined with lead / and our minds gassed, smog full of hormones / our bodies have created. My dry mouth is bittersweet again.


Charley Barnes is an author and poet from Worcester (UK). Her work has been published across a number of journals, including Riggwelter, Atrium, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Barnes' debut poetry pamphlet, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache, was published by V. Press in 2018 and her follow-up pamphlet is forthcoming with Picaroon Poetry. She also writes fiction under the moniker C. S. Barnes, and her fiction is published by Bloodhound Books.