“Sterenfall” by Wendy Barker

Wendy Barker


Anselm Kiefer, 1998, Mixed media on panel, Blanton Museum of Art

Splattered gravel, burned-out forests, residue

                      from forklifts, excavators, back hoes

glued onto this panel and taking up

    what seems the whole wall so you can’t walk by,

                  you’re sucked into a mammoth

3D sinkhole, staring at these clumped twigs

      like abandoned camp fires, or what’s left

                          of flattened or fire-gutted houses,

  as if, with one spark, leaves, birds, lizards,

                anything that wiggled or fluttered was gone,

leaving only crumbled stone and dried out

    splinters, as if you’re peering down from above the planet

        at ridges, fault lines, escarpments, canyons

                that resemble the land down your own street

gone to bulldozers, gutted, ripped

                        of root and vine, the rock bed under

  the trees split into rubble

      to be scraped away before foundations are poured,

as if the ground hadn’t been foundation enough,

            but this huge piece is about what’s left after

everything’s been ground

                            down, after we’ve exploded it all,

taken ourselves out, and the only thing left

                        will be faint tracings of the stories

      of stars you used to look up to.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012

Wendy Barker: “Once when Ruth Stone was teaching at UC Davis, where I was a grad student, I asked if she thought I should keep on writing poems. Her answer was simply, ‘Can you stop?’ Of course I couldn’t. I’ve always needed to write—as Jay Parini has said, ‘Poems allow us to metabolize thoughts and feelings.’ Poems keep me going—reading them, writing them. Poetry keeps me connected, within myself, with others, with the world—it keeps me alive.” (web)


Wendy Barker is the guest on episode #35 of the Rattlecast! Click here to watch live or archived …

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