Janet Barry is a musician and poet with works published or forthcoming in dozens of journals and anthologies including Ragged-Sky, Off-the-Coast, Cider Press Review, Canary, Tygerburning, Solidus, and New Mirage Journal. She serves yearly as a judge for Poetry Out Loud, and received a Pushcart Nomination for her poem “Winter Barn.” Janet holds a degree in organ performance and an MFA in poetry. You can see her reading one of her poems in a recent episode of In Place.
Do not let yourself be talked into making rules. I say this for your own good and because of porcupines those filthy creatures who believe themselves in vincible because of quills and hissing. I hit one the other day as it waddled across the dirt road and believe me I swerved tried to miss it as it glared acc usingly at me, at the pulp it was about to become and I dreamed that night that its children - for it was a she and pregnant - came along one-by-one to my sum mer night back door and shit on the sill in payment for their nothappening lives but as to the rules - there is one for the length of a quarter note, and one for the dose of a flu vacine for infants and one for the amount of BPA in canned goods and newspapers that the government pretends will do us no harm. It’s actually quite easy. You can make up a rule about dead porcupines and their babies. You can make up a rule about how many 70’s rock songs are allowed on the ra dio during commuter hours. How many doctors it takes to prove a woman is insane or a good prospect. In my dreams the young women were foolish and asked for my help. I turned them away from my summer night paper back do or step covered in porcupine shit. It was the kindest thing to do. You can make a rule about who pays the mortgage and what kind of lightbulbs are most efficient a rule about who plants the first kiss that leads to sex a rule about who has to go out late at night to take the garbage out and this is the way it is, if you let yourself be talked into making rules. The young women pop open a can of Coke and stretch long legs across your sofa. They all smoke and have perfect hair. The porcupines snuffle in the dark, quills raised. A small book opens.