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From the archives

Carbon Copy

In equal balance justly weighed

Slouching toward Democracy

Where have all the wise men gone?

By Populist Demand

When urban and rural voters went separate ways


I float with a ladybug in bubbles. You swim over

smiling, our unkind games of wit at lunch

purged in the cool water. I stick out my feet.

The low sun warms them. Not enough is at stake.

But I admire how Claudio navigates his car,

his baby girl in the back. Like an elaborate removal

of a hat. Like the Punjabi mystic, in WWII,

who sat with the Germans in the grass. Our love has

the inevitability of revenge. After an hour apart,

we meet with the mistrust of epochs. I raise

my ghost’s portion of wine to you, to your face,

that ancient church, mauled & restored,

now celebrated. You lean back on the bed, strawberries

on your fingers & on your teeth like blood.

John Wall Barger’s third book of poems, The Book of Festus (Palimpsest Press), was a finalist for the 2016 J.M. Abraham Poetry Award. Work appears in American Poetry Review, Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and Best of the Best Canadian Poetry. His poem, “Smog Mother,” was co-winner of the Malahat Review’s 2017 Long Poem Prize. He is currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is on the editorial board at Painted Bride Quarterly.