Janet Barry

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.
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