Cylinder Turns and Triggers Warning Bell

Palm trees are only for people who bill
over 2,000 hours per year the mystery freckled
cheeks of some citizen of human planet earth
and apple when it’s cut the tang air and yes

I know it’s hard to be climbing down the fire escape
late you’re a human turning a corner on a city street
it should not be so hard to be alive when literal

dew is on the grass and the crumbling concrete
structures are magnificent in damp decomposition
yes I had a drink or two yes the movement was real

they called me “ace” and I was responsible for reading
mail from prisoners looking for clusters of the same
complaints from the same prisons like bad yelp reviews

basically and egrets on one leg in the lake in town lake
the pink limestone granite nightmare the aquifers
rushing beneath our feet at dark hours at late times

when everyone should be asleep when even ski resorts

empty out.


The Working Class

The work whistle sounded time to go
a nightmare of influences already moving
toward a bottle of whiskey and
these rough hands this heavy brow.

Dusk came to the lamp lit streets
he poured another sitting by the window
and there would be more work in the morning
so he trudged inward
beyond his thoughts.

He drank like a mad man fearing each kitchen footstep
each car turning onto his street
beams sweeping through his windows
cold air from outside crept
in from underneath the door.

There were dogs howling
he drank further
a shadowy form
traced across his ceiling
alighting on the inert TV screen.

Puzzles to be abandoned
he drank straight through that maze
there was life, anyway, tomorrow.

And his foreman
asleep early
dreamt of breaking
terrible news
to him.


Wallace Barker lives in Austin, Texas. He has been published in Neutral Spaces Magazine, Reality Hands, Misery Tourism and Expat Press. More of his work can be found at