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Collected poems 1970 to 2004


Peter Barns


Published by Boddaert Books at Smashwords


Copyright 2011 Peter Barns



Smashwords Edition, License Notes.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



These poems are a work of fiction. The names, characters and events portrayed are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.







Lifeless Hair

Little Lacey

Thirty One

Distorted Echoes

Tiger - Tiger

A Peculiar Man

Pot Luck

Pretty Little Thing


It's Wet Out Again

Golden Birth

Sagging Seats

Super Babe

Uncle Bert's Last Tune

Deathless Caress

The Day the Hoover Bit Back

Rats In The Haystack

Little Mo And Gran Go Shopping

Some Thoughts And Feelings On The View South From Nigg Over The Firth Looking Towards Invergordon With The Mountains As A Backdrop - On A Sunny Day Last Summer.


Throw Another Bone On The Pile

Fly Me

Childhood's Playmate

New Stone


Sex - What Sex?





A hole is nowt,

So what's about,

And then a shout,

"Oy mate, look out!

Too late John,

Poor bleeders gone."


- a comment on building sites -


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Touch me lightly

For the pain I feel now

Is the pain of love


- those first few seconds of falling in love -


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She split her eyes at ten am,

Shrugged her body out of bed,

Scuffed across the cold, cold floor,

Stood at the sink and nailed her head.

The coils hung down - limp and dank,

She knew it needed washing now,

She popped her tongue and told herself,

She wouldn't do it anyhow.

The coils slid round her dirty throat,

And as she choked upon the floor,

She wished she hadn't left it now,

Should have washed it long before.


- sylvia’s hair -


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Little Lacey Tickle tumbles,

Falling down gives a laugh,

Scooping suds upon her head,

Smiles at mum while in the bath.


- a friend’s first child -


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There was a house, cor what a dive,

And a neighbour shouted, "Man alive!

What is this noise, this deep, deep beat,

That roars out over Dodson Street?"

His friend shouts back, "Don't worry son,

It's all those bums in thirty-one."


- my flat in waterloo, london -


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Last week I bought a pig called Peter,

a present for my wife, but she didn't want it.

Last week Peter bought a pig for a present

but my wife, she didn't want it.

Peter bought she, a present for my pig

but last week I didn't want my wife.

Peter bought the wife a she pig

and last week it was a present.

Then the pig ate my wife.

Now there's a fucking present!


- drunk & disorderly -


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The tiger's coming darling,

Cast your hearing over there,

See the sights - the black-gold stripes,

The eyes that seem to stare and stare.

See the way it smells you darling,

Look, the grass is moving there,

Smell the musk - the cat like odour,

See the claws that tear and tear.

Feel the way it wants you darling,

As it pulls you limb from limb,

You'll not wander anymore,

Now that you are inside him.


- that’ll stop her fooling around -


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I like to walk in the woods at night

And sit by myself in the dark

I like to argue all the time

And stand on my head in the park

I like to dress in clothes so gay

And laugh and sing when I can

I like to do these things and more

'Cos I'm a peculiar man


- well that’s what all my mates say -


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Me brother John sniffed glue like

Yeah, glue and gas and stuff

Trouble was 'e didn't know

When 'e'd 'ad enough.

Not me, I got more sense like

Don't want me nose to rot

Snotting lumps of Evo-Stic

Yeah, fink I'll stick to pot.

'Cause pot don't do yer 'ead like

That's what me mates all say

If only John 'ad smoked it

'E'd still be 'ere today.


- good ol’ flower-power -


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She was a pretty little thing

Some said a genius

Who could talk to many nations

But I didn't trust her

For come upon her quietly

And you could hear her whisper

"Come quick, come quick, come quick."

She was a pretty little thing

Some said a mystic

Who could talk to long dead people

But I didn't trust her

For come upon her quietly

And you could hear her whisper

"This world, this world, this world."

She was a pretty little thing

Some said a Healer

Who could touch a person healthy

But I didn't trust her

For come upon her quietly

And you could hear her whisper

"Kill them, kill them, kill them."


- an idea for a short story -


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I wanted to see everything

I wanted to understand all

I wanted to be everywhere

So I built a cage

A large cage

A glass cage

And in the cage I sat

And as I sat I pondered

And the conclusion was this

If I am to see everything, I must be everywhere

So I built a nest

A large nest

A glass nest

And I slept within the nest

And as I slept I was devoured

Piece by piece

Fed into the mandibles of knowledge

And upon nine legs I walked

To roam and see with a million eyes

Viewing all in tiny parts

Which added together equalled one

And when my wanderings were done

I found I had the answer


- further education -


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It's wet out again,

and your tears run down

the windowpane.

Touching them brings you back.

Damp patches on my fingertips,

cool receptacle of our love.

Your tears are salty

as I savour their memory.

Salty, soft and tentative.

This one, our wedding day;

your face is reflected in its shape,

framing your beauty from within.

Here, our child's first hurt.

You cried with her. I,

not being there, cried later.

The harsh taste of your mother's death;

as she gave up her struggle

and left you behind.

All things wiped away now

With the edge of a curtain.


- my first divorce -


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My incubation took aeons

for buried deep I was.

Deep in the desert sands.

Hidden away from sight in a hot, grainy bed.

And as I grew I dreamt.

Dreamt of a life when I would be free.

For three thousand centuries I grew,

flexing half-formed muscles within my shell

while above me the world turned.

Over the years life crawled,

ebbing and flowing across my land.

Many confusing thoughts carried to me,

hateful thoughts, primitive thoughts.

Urgings and longings that called me up,

straining for the sky,

so the sun might warm my golden skin.

My time is now, I feel it.

I am.


- a rather peculiar dream -


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Piled high in twisted surrealism,

gaping doors rusted and broken,

gutless machines brood;

broken dreams on buckled wheels.

The slow drip of oil,

as a split axle cries,

makes echoes of pain.

And all the while, the bloody dashboard

and broken glass

makes echoes of life.

Wind slammed doors move gently,

whispering stories on their sighing hinges.

Small pieces of scalp

flutter lifelike on the breeze.

What dreams were carried on these sagging seats

now spilling foam from gaping smiles?

What dreams that called with such urgency

none could wait to embrace them?


- scrap-yard of dreams -


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More dangerous than a speeding bullet.

Smellier than an unwashed tramp.

Able to disrupt life with a single smile.

Is it a dog?

Is it a cat?

Is it even a good idea?

No - it's superbabe!

Its five year mission - to boldly mess

where no babe has messed before.

More troublesome than a Poll Tax Form.

More noisier than a Lada car.

Able to redistribute food with a single puke.

Is it lovable?

Is it laughable?

Is it even worth it?

Of course it is - it's superbabe!


- that 4am feeling -


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The women work quietly in the back room

I sit with his life across my knees.

They laughingly wash his cold body

I lovingly stroke his worn and battered tuba,

And recall a resplendent uniform.

The women stand by his bed

While I place his life by his side,

His cold stiff fingers on warm brass stops.

Then his body settles and plays his last tune.

A slow, resounding fart.


- a friend’s funeral -


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Death caressed my face in passing

but didn't stop that night.

I sat confused amid tinkling glass,

A drawn-out silence, hot ticking metal.

I tasted the encounter in warm blood,

smelt it in the petrol fumes,

saw it in the twisted wreck,

and was frightened by the suddenness

of our meeting.


- a head-on, resulting in a cracked cheekbone -


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Do you recall what you were doing

the day JFK was shot?

It was like that when the Hoover bit back.

I was relaxing in a hot tub

when my wife's scream shot me through the door.

She stood in a corner; eyes wide

while the hose waved back and forth

like some demented snake.

I watched, mouth agape, as it struck.

She elongated and disappeared.

Plop. Like that. Plop.

And I never did see her again,

even though I kept a sharp eye out

when emptying the bag.


- and thereby hangs a tale -


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"I'm a 'Feminist'," you said assertively.

I just smiled and nodded meekly,

doing my best to ignore the undertones

that echoed back from my cradle.

"You're a 'Chauvinist Pig'," you said aggressively.

"All males are.

Perhaps not intentionally,

but I have my fears,

and you must acknowledge them."

"All men are 'Rapists'," you implied with your look,

with your reasonable smile of understanding.

Your ideas left me in fear

of caressing my own sweet child.


- feminism doesn’t just reign, it pours -


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The lectern cups the paper;

the paper cups the words.

And somewhere between them both

understanding changes.

The scanning eye perceives the fact

but misinterprets the meaning.

The lectern trembles;

the paper whispers.

And somewhere the words go unheard.

The reader, having started,

admits not to the possibility

that a page may have blown away.


- my first lecture -


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The Twittering Of The Sparrows is completed

And the Great Wall lays eighteen square.

Outside the wall, the Devils,

Inside the wall, my hopes.

All await the East Wind and the click of ivory dice.


Sparrow's Sanctuary:

And I wait breathless by the bus stop,

floating behind you as you pass.

Carried unknowingly on your scent.

Burning from the laughter of your friends.

But it matters not, your skirt brushed my hand

and I carry its throbbing memory along with my homework.


Thirteen Grades Of Imperial Treasure:

"Did you touch her skin - or just rub her jumper?"

"The skin," knowing smirk.

"Did you French Kiss?"

"Of course," expanded chest.

"Did you touch First Base?"

"Every base," cocky swagger.


Windy Dragons:

So I carry her books;

mumbling and stumbling,

weedling and needling,

hoping and moping,

and dreaming,

and scheming, trying and crying.

Then she laughs with me

and my dragon sleeps in a sheltered cave.


Plucking The Plum Blossom From The Roof:

Suppressed laughter and stumbles on the stairs.

Loud whispers and fumbling fingers.

Harsh gasps and low soft moans.

Too soon gone - too soon come.

Picking The Moon From The Bottom Of The Sea:

Saying goodbye each day is no longer hard

when once more my moon rises

from the depths of your sea.


Triple Knitting:

Have we really made this?

Miniature scrunched up face,

tiny, tiny nails,

podgy little toes?

So small that I am afraid to touch.


- ah, but love is just a game -


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Colour her sad as she sits and cries

Her first dog dead

Friend, companion, confessor

She stares through the window

Searching for reasons

And whispers, "Goodbye."


- ‘nough said -


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They stand, sweaty in the sun,

Urging the last bale to fall.

Seven boys, clutching sticks.

Eyes quick, hearts fast, throats dry.

Small brown bodies tumble,

exploding from the depths,

darting under blows.

Eyes quick, hearts fast, throats dry.

Excited shouts cover my shame,

Beating small bodies as they run,

We move as one.

Eyes quick, hearts fast, throats dry.

Now we stand, far from our field,

A village in an unknown land,

Waiting for our orders.

Eyes quick, hearts fast, throats dry.


- an exercise for the local writer’s group -


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I watch them walk down the path holding hands,

different ends of the same life.

One starting out, one nearly finished,

the chapters of living,

mostly unread, stacked between them.

They pause at the hedge,

Mo head up, inquisitive and fresh,

Gran head down, watchful and worn;

both spotlighted by a stray shaft of sunlight.

Two motes transfixed in time.

They negotiate the sagging gate,

leave it disjointed, creaking and a little more lifeless.

Watching them it is hard to know

who is leading, who led.

They laugh together, sharing their childhood secrets,

their dreams of tomorrow.


- how is should have been -


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Marvellous - bloody marvellous!


- a long title for a short poem -


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I always held my breath as I entered,

frightened to inhale that distinctive scent.

The smell of decay and pending death.

The sweet cloying fragrance of finality.

Her eyes always mirrored my fear

but she forgave me.

What did I know, young as I was?

And perhaps in forgiving me, she forgave herself.

Her arthritic hands would flutter,

and her toothless smile light up her face.

The sun catch her pink scalp

through the thinning white hair.

A frail old woman, some might think.

Bedridden for thirty years,

the Queen's telegram proudly framed

above her bed.

Her body lay shrunken and wrinkled.

An ancient tree, fallen in a storm.

Myriad tiny blue veins, the rings of years,

showing through the fine, translucent skin.

A small frail form, not afraid of death,

encased in a deep feather bed.

A small frail form, not afraid of life,

encasing a firm, sharp wit.


- as I remember her -


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In countries where the mad-dogs play,

Disturbed by that exiling leer,

The sheep wait quietly, talking low,

Triangulated by their fear.

Retribution cased in lead,

In countries where the mad-dogs play,

Creating sickly, fetid smells,

That’s whirl and cling thro' night and day.

As from a building, half destroyed,

A doctor drops, on growing pile,

In countries where the mad-dogs play,

A small child's leg, a father's smile.

Dislodged, a hand slides slowly down,

Caressing gently on the way,

The now dead heir, a once loved son,

In countries where the mad-dogs play.


In countries where the mad-dogs play,

As bombs rain down, black mindless flies,

The unwashed corpses rot away,

Beneath the calm but leaden skies.

Great tides of people swirl in fear,

In countries where the mad-dogs play,

The Ethnic Cleansings reached a point,

Where no one's left to clean away.

And I: what aid; what deed; what thought?

While children burn and parents die?

In countries where the mad-dogs play,

What answers give to their last cry?

I cannot touch these displaced souls,

Their suffering is too far away,

Far better try to touch the sun,

In countries where the mad-dogs play.


- choose your country -


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Her dream came true on May the seventeenth

at precisely ten forty two am.

Until then she had only dreamt of flying,

Swooping free, buzzing the flowers in passing.

A superwoman sliding through the air

On a level with the birds.

Turning slowly, loose skirt flapping

Gulls wings slapping her legs,

She smiled and gazed downwards.

No sense of height here,

The landscape below, an embroidered sheet

Framed between spread fingers.

She laughed aloud, an acrobat in free-fall.

Clouds, land, clouds, land. Alternating views.

Her dreams now realised.

She was still smiling as she hit reality.


- another crazy dream -


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My friend was Steven and he did magic

He could heal skinned knees, make me smile

Be a crocodile, or a roaring tiger

Do anything I asked, be my playmate.

When mum came he went away

Sometimes for a little while, sometimes longer

Not far, just out of sight.

But when I called, he would always come.


- a true friend from childhood -


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How was it that I found you?

Walking the empty beach,

the smell of youth fresh on the wind.

The sound of rock'n'roll crushing the sand.

And there you were,

alone and shining,

cradled in fine grains, glinting and winking.

Fascinated, I picked you up

and felt your freshness run through me,

as the vein of red ran through you.

Having held you so, I could no longer let you go,

felt repugnance at leaving you behind.

But after so many years, such sharing,

I've moved on; outgrown our oneness,

ready to turn over new stones,

while you lay discarded at the back of my drawer.


- growing apart -


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The mewl of the seagull

and cawl, cawl of the crow.

The bleat of the lamb

and growl of the passing car.

The shifting stones of the shore

and the undulating yap of the dog.

The howl of the wind

and the rattle of the branches.

The sounds of silence.


- country living -


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Someone once told me that men,

as opposed to women, bless them

Nice tits

Think about sex every few minutes.

What a load of rubbish!

Wow, look at her

Men, as opposed to women, bless them,

are logical, not emotional.

Great legs

So it goes without saying,

but I'll say it anyway

Don't stop - jiggle, jiggle

That this is a right old load of poppycock.

I mean, come on guys, be truthful now.

Is sex really so important

or wouldn't you rather have a pint?

God, look at the bum on that!


- no comment -


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About the author:



Peter Barns live in the Highlands of Scotland.

Retired, he now spends his time writing and refurbishing houses.

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Connect with me online:

Website: http//www.boddaert.co.uk

Twitter: http: https://twitter.com/#!/peterbarns

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000676216263

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/boddaert

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/boddaert

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Also available in paperback format by the same author at


7 Days In May

Fire Rock

Hobart at Home


Love Is

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