Three poems ~ poetry by Barbara Lock

Against Beginnings

Each night I grow my second self a quarter inch
and now her girth fills the bed, soon the room. By noon
next Tuesday month she’ll fill the garage, then
the block. Next year I’ll enter a city and change
the weather, bringing what’s blue and open, like legs.
Each night I grow my second self a quarter inch;
soon she’ll contain every being’s decrepitude.
A vortex of crows lands, vanishes tractor shapes
in mud while decay cushions your fall. Nothing sad.
Also, I grow younger, reverse the explosion.
(The Big Bang is as untenable as theories come.
We collapse and expand and collapse and expand.)
My second self discounts beginnings, believes you
are reading the wrong kind of origin story.


In Which I Imagine a Softening

Last night I drew the two of coins
and felt the infinite fatigue
of what I must dissimulate.
Lifetime lovers trade cards for fear,
for time, for ever afterlife,
permitting self-possession.


The Terrible Dreaming

To stop the terrible dreaming, I throw my weight
onto an ice river, heavy with fallen trees,
mossed rock, imaginary fish pulled by women.
To stop the terrible dreaming, I climb a mud
road steep to the tree line where bighorn sheep eat
the peels of bananas left by dizzy tourists.
To stop the terrible dreaming, I hire painters
for cumulus—their white is not the kind I like
and we all leave unburdened of our preferences.
When I started the terrible dreaming (and by
terrible, I mean terrific), I was a child
who thought dream-state was no different from wake-state.
That my imagination was the same as all beings’—
we were equals. Even the fiercest animals
had the right to my territory and I to theirs.
To stop the terrible dreaming I make objects,
representations, thin and tinkling. I suspend
my wants from the low branches of nut trees and hope
for not-a-thing as the flux travels where it will.

Barbara Lock is a multi-genre writer, editor, teacher, and physician. Her poems and prose appear or are forthcoming in seventeen journals, print and online, including juked online,, jmww, Invisible City, New Delta Review, Cold Signal, and elsewhere. She tweets @medpie1. There’s more about her at

Show Barbara some love via PayPal at barbaralock(at)hotmail(dot)com.