All copyright © 2003 remains with the authors.
All copyright © 2004 remains with the authors.

Douglas Barbour

sheet half off
our bodies slanted
in early morning light

the air remains warm
er than it should

i get up &
eventually sit
before the screen

snapping at its
gray reflection
of the day beyond
the window

a gray cave
lit among
the dark thick
green leaves

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton, Canada. 08:30, 7/23/03


snapshot haiku:

wake up sunup slow
moving as heat seeps into
the mind and the day

noise about noise as
someone promotes a concert
elsewhere heating up

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton, Canada, 08:50, 7/30/03


light glows slow
inside cupola's dark
groined curves

or simply pure b&w
on the card

post Camere Illuminati
& Son et Lumière

already past
a late gift
to shine beside

the computer's gleam
screens scramble

& morning light

attracts the eye

Douglas Barbour
'Pantheon, Paris, France 2001' gelatin silver print, advertisement for Dianne Bos show:
Edmonton Canada 09:00


lightening behind eyelids
heavy with broken dreams

all night waking from what?

what the phone call said
who felt it most

& the gray sky
too close to mood

as we hold each other
in the slow dawn

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Cananda, 08:30


that bright red dot
in the southern sky here

memories encoded

those first bounding steps
my mother reminded me
I had spoken of when very young

she standing in kitchen
unbelieving / yet
we watched together
those leaps in black & white
on TV
(soon to thrust further
to the nearest planet

for sure

& this week
a report on executive failures
even the space station
slowly sinking
while the aging shuttles
& imagination
sit on the tarmac downed

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Canada, 08:50 27 VIII 03


First day of classes:

All night waking up,
thinking how often I've done
this. Yet still can't stop.

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Canada, 08:20


continual exchange:

how imagination
's eye
now turns toward
ocean's pull
& power

now reaches
to the stars

an almost daily
two voices
becoming one

& wandering
through each
call & response

again this

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Canada, 08:30


too grey a morning
to think clear
beyond the snow
too early seen

I think I'll go
put on a parka
throw my hands in the air & whine

or an anorak
for the rain
now falling perhaps
in Britain

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton Canada 08:23


photo - delay:

something like a buffalo
jumps from some
thing like a platform

all laid out
against the blue
& white shadowed curtains
of cloud
draped beyond

minute by minute changing
shifting up and
lost then
above the lowering sun

Douglas Barbour Edmonton Canada 11:30


Snapshot headlines (1 week late):

A regular boy who drifted into trouble
Bush rebuked over Iraq

Barring mayhem after midnight
Vatican is turning the clock back
changing altar girls' role at mass

Not extinct after all

Mother Theresa stamps
herald next month's fast track

Busdriver jailed for unscheduled trip
Bush speech shaped by mounting domestic
Agriculture minister insists mad cow

a priority all along... Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Canada Sept 24 (07:55 Oct 1 2003)


walking in a crowd
our smaller crowd of 4
investigates restaurants

there are many
up and down
Glebe Point Road

where we wander
in a 'winter sun'
full of summer

for Canadian bodies
in T-shirts
among all the local jumpers

and Pauline stops
before the open door
of a loud concerto

voices in raw counterpoint
from an old café
so filled it almost overflows

we push in anyway
studying her mantra

choose the one that's full
it's bound to be good

which I've remembered
ever since

and it hasn't failed me yet

Douglas Barbour, Edmonton, Canada (in memory) 08:15


last night
that woman
read new

poems from
poems she
read through

their first
lines to
take them

elsewhere in
to her
own heart

land of
eccentric turns
of phrase

and choice
her family
will not

comprehend they
pray they
must resist

the turn
to every
freedom walk

she takes
through words
and life

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton Canada 07:50


first snow     falling slow
hangs in the air
a curtain drifting there
thickening sight

you see
either the depth of
the lines of           or
certain flakes shifting
immediate      then
twisting     & gone

while slowly the trees
& houses fade
away         into
a distance        made only
of white descent

as night
                    gently falls
into place

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:15


now waiting to hear
the Minister of Community Services
share his other life

singing the song he wrote
          a singer-songwriter!
just like Tom Thumb's Blues
          but his government
attacks all such wastrels

(wastrels!      yup, they'd
use such terms, we
know these people
they rule us now
in every country state
province      I
still can't figure why)

& trying to decide
if I'll go to the trouble
of turning off the radio
before I hear him wail

while more homeless
sing their own blues
on the corner
covered in snow
uncovered by the recent cuts
always already made

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton November 5.03 08:22



watched the man lie
again     move as if
on strings

mouth words
once meaningful
demeaned by misuse

lay that wreath
those crocodile tears
a slow march

never learned
in the real
just the bought

and sanitized
all that quick march
sans the lonely dead

Edmonton 08: 17 November 12/03
Douglas Barbour


sky coming steel grey
a single snowflake falling
beyond the near pane

elsewhere bombs falling
into dark morning / amBushed by
'violent restraint'...

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:10 Wednesday November 19/03


past oral

after the long

an epitaph
etched in stone

the body's exclamations
each muscle rustle stopped

how having writ
the moving hand ditto

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 07:50 November 26/03


a penchant for war
forewarned is
four armed

gone into the dark

a pen chants for peace
for warned is
for ward
ing off

look toward the light

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 07:40 December 5/03


is the world still with us
at all     the planet turns
beneath us impersonal

but not unperturbed
by how the world's
waning law lost

in the snow or sand
plowed through
exploded    the idea

thrown out against
that heatdeath of
the mind mined

and blown up out
of proportion
all the freedom

promised and denied
the world spins
its own narrative thread

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:25 Wednesday December 12 2003


Waiting for the sun
I remember half
a world away half
a year later

waiting for the sun
to shine on hot sand
not reflect off
cold white snow

the sound the same
a gritty squeak
from heavy boots
or bare feet

at this moment
late in the evening
in Melbourne
the sun I don't see shines

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:10 Wednesday December 17/03


'i' 'saw'
3? ships
'come' 'sailing'

in time or space
connected as if to

3 ships ply
Gulf waters
guns alert

& long before
3 sails waft
before the wind

& someday
circling that
planet earthly

3 ships seed
hope before
war tears

the fabric
the veil
the faith
to sail

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 16:25 December 24 2003


Hear the joyful noise of it
All   all changes    all
Pretence gone for a moment only
Possibilities    the world slippage
You feel in your bones    right

Now    new    as
Each potential
Worldline fans out

Yes    dream
Emerging from a dark
Anger going nowhere
Revealing something lost

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:55 December 31 2003


waking early to the still dark
walking slowly to the next room

then waking up in the acts
of muscle moves deep breaths

the slow enlightenment
at the window

snowlight glow outside
peoples' breaths hung in the air

grey atmosphere everywhere
holds the day imminent

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:30 Wednesday January 7 2004


what came down
hard ring of

icefall clear
obscuring all

sightlines gone
in mottled light

scrape scrape
to see the drive

to miss the other
sliding forms

& later light

the surface tension
pavement dark

& the bright white
flash of snow below

Douglas Barbour Edmonton
Wednesday January 14 09:15


this shelf not that one:

Wilson's Bowl Water
and Light Hanging Fire

Color of Her Speech
Double Standards

Artemis Hates Romance
Confabulations Holding
the Pose The Beginning
of the Long Dash


Flowers for
Hitler Parasites
of Heaven The Energy
of Slaves Death
of a Lady's Man

A Short Sad Book
Errata Delayed
Mercy Moving in
Alone Lies The Night
the Dog Smiled

Light Questions
I Asked My Mother
A Breakfast for

Barbarians Tranceform

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton Canada 12:30


the cold snaps tempers fast

breath hangs in the air
too long & too much
exhaust fogging the low sky

even the birds' breaths
float behind them
scarves of exhalation

exhilaration only
for some cool fools

or the adapted (I
am not that much
& stay inside
watching the smoke
cloud the slowly
lightening sky

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton Canada 08:40


'This summer'? but
I cant wait!
I want that 'eco-
village in Thessalia' now

forget the 'writing courses ...
in Mavromati,' how
ever 'truly Greek and
little touched by tourism'
it might be, I must have
the heat, 'the ethos of hospitality
and filoxenia' now, let me
escape to this 'terrestrial
paradise of
spectacular mountains,
lush forests, natural springs
and breathtaking gorges' before
I freeze. I need those
'vistas' 'colors
of the sky' and everything
'the two worlds of
Greek Mythology and Byzantium' can give me.

Surrounded by snow
let me fly
to those green hills
let me go crumble now
in that 'terrible Grecian light'

Douglas Barbour


what do you mean? poetry?

why yesterday I
listened to
a respected older poet
read slow monologues
not dramatic enough
short stories
pretending to be poems

& lecturing between
on balance
'narrative' see/
sawing 'music'
somehow unaware
the latter wasn't there

then in the evening
carried away by youth
their first readings
such love of words
such finesse

as i look back
to welcome them
they walk right by
gently smiling

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton Canada 08: 50 Wednesday February 11 03 Edmonton, Canada 08:50 February 4 2003


surrounded by words
almost corralled by words
quoted within quotations
within the pages I must read

and read with pleasure
not so usual with
the work of dissertation

yet this work is pleasure
felt and feeling
made clear in such
obscurity collage demands

to learn from
one's 'student'
companion on the way

which we cannot know
is the way
if we're to wander it

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:15


who gave me those ears
were friends who knew
what i didnt
always hear

as my brother
let me play
all that jazz

& then someone
put Miles on
so eventually I
was Kind of Blue

or the first time
i both saw the cover
& really heard
Abraxas in
Fort McMurray

& the sound poet
who convinced me
of the power &
skill of the Beach Boys

who then opened
the door to
Shostakovich 's Quartets

or the angelic
sounds of Al Green

such friends
to whom
i returned
the gift some
times, as with

Alison Krauss
& Jessica Williams


Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:15 Wednesday February 25 2004


What a week!

the body in tatters

in Baghdad
Port au Prince

the flails of safe belief
the whips of scorn

no body left
to right

'My God how the money flows in'

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:55 Wednesday March 3 2003


blood on the ice
blood on the library floor

local or national
equally seen
on the same small screen
comment on the airwaves

the hockey player
to the ice by the star
the act caught on camera
his neck breaking there

the student stabbed
by unidentified 'attackers'
just his blood trails
later shown
'several puncture wounds to his torso'

and the talk goes on
the whys and wherefores unknown

but oh how the talk goes on

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:55 Wednesday


what goes so far

but a year
but a revision
of 'the news'

the fact is that
one thing is

that this is
always that

or that
this story is
history is

abstractions bless
their misty fadeouts
slip easily across
those lines drawn
unclearly of
definitions now

what comes so far

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:50 Wednesday March 17 2004



in pails

on the rails

or trails

all those wails

but on walls


Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:50


what would Science
as a subject

Edmonton's weather
as a standard
for what's going
down in an
atmosphere of?

yesterday a record
high -- plus 24
& today I woke

to falling snow
those huge white flakes
so beautiful

& cool

real cool

in some context/
content/ spare

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton Canada 09:00


the moon's victory
a secret only
a boared Bob Dylan
can uncover

at 15, 30, 60 seconds
he'll tell you
Lima in Venice
in a bra

is enough to make
any man love sick

what a song

no blood
on these tracks

hurry up please it's time

out of mind

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton, Canada, 08:30


is one word

for a face
pretending strength
behind a lectern

ing away from
what hand
held fact

a then and now
so similar

as the temperature here
falls from spring

as if

as if that 'Fog'
turned hard
into snow

the ground covered again

whitely here
'the [fall] of
war' blinding sight

over and over

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 09:30 Wednesday April 14 2004


I wanted to
to get there

to get into
the words turned
as if on a lathe

of heaven sent
stutter fall
the way they
took the breath

right out of me

he was older than when
that near shout of
for Christ's sake

got my attention
& got my attention
with words that turned
on a sense of aging

how to get there
where I might be
now   now I inhale

the same unstale
air he told us we
all must breathe


(for Robert Creeley)

Douglas Barbour
Wednesday 09:30 April 21 2003


the sheer swoosh of wind across the windows
thuds of branches against the house
the whir of it the whip of

yet the sound's relaxing
more a long slow roar
of ever rolling surf
along the beaches of oregon
those many years ago

lulling then
and now lulled
I slept easily
to that song

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 0900


It's people
they're infamous
American disgust

little context
more acts
conclusions bleak

first systemic
commentators sick
premature command
military abuse
high-security acts
under officers
constantly know guards

reports recently
quoted concluded
'blatant, criminal'
officer said
systemic abuse

photos terrible
hearts took torture
rule vicious cells
torturers anywhere

talk made empty
but race must bear terrorism
noted struggle simple
scant indefinite invasion
near-absolute opinion
Bush's world no

attention justified another conclusion

consider 2002 news
military interrogators
extreme deprivation
minor torture
countries tortured
someone's official job

reports consistent
public deaths
have ruled pathologists
but no explanation apparently

now humiliated worldwide
difference made connection
disparity without
moral imagination
empathy absence

failure evident
as moral acts bad
villains universe

but faces monstrous or
you samples
we people

believe neighbours
understand people
no different

my response
evidence ordinary
no one themselves

denying ourselves
stop every heart
Douglas Barbour
Wednesday May 5 2003
(taking one word per line from Dan Gardner's column, 'Just like you and me: Disturbing truths in Iraqi PoW photos,' Edmonton Journal, May 4)



lucent     let be

lated      come into
greening as rain
falls     the occasional

parent     purify
colour so thin
it slow      it grow
it darken now
beyond snow

ference      how mind
mends as it moves beyond

that the world
goes on despite
& as

cendant     to blight


Douglas Barbour
Edmonton    08:20    Wednesday May 26 2004


a forlorn denial now one
week gone   the storm
of news & conversation
grief brings

and reminds us that all
broken promises promised
things would get better

but who said that   &
then who can believe
the same old stories   even the
moon goes through the motions now

filled with the usual cunning
out go stars
round that full light

& a line of flight makes
this night complicit   that
bright day rises to

birdsong as if the
morning were really new

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton   16:25    Wednesday   June 2 2004
(with thanks to Sharon Brogan)


such a small dark
mess   /   age of
discovery repeats

dotting the bright page
in a slow arc
across that reflective
glow the eyes
can't apprehend alone

a sign then
&now a sign

that so small
a defect drains

some light from
the seen

the sense of
all proportion

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 19:30 Wednesday June 9 2004


what bird this is I do not know
but that a rusty hinge outside the door
screeches once, & once again, & then once more

begins at dawn
far too soon
then all day long
that sharp grinding sound
creaks out from hidden branches

thus unseen
but not unheard
the cry to cringing ears compels

Douglas Barbour
Edmonton 08:30 Wednesday June 23 2003


jest and mirror

of you

Ursula laughing
you Stephen
symbol expire shall

Douglas Barbour
Wednesday 09:25 Wednesday June 14 / 04

Poetryetc is a listserv relating to poetry and poetics which provides a forum for poets to debate their critical and creative work. The list has over the years run a number of projects for its members, of which Snapshots has been the most enduring.

Every Wednesday, Poetryetc members were invited to post short poems on any subject or in any form they chose. The idea was to make a poetic collage of instamatic “snaps” of that day that reflected the international membership of the list. The project has generated an astounding number of poems.

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