Barbara Crooker: poems from Slow Wreckage


The past is never dead. 
It’s not even past. 
William Faulkner

Oak leaves stamped against a chicory sky
swirled with clouds, like a marble I once had
and lost.  It’s probably still there, caught in a dry
puddle, a tree root, or one of those cracked

pavements of childhood that we walked
on going to school.  We roamed the neighborhood
in feral packs, marked up the curb with chalk:
hopscotch, marbles, kickball, only going in for food

or band-aids.  No sunscreen, helmets, fancy bikes.
Once, we rode to the creek to swim, dead deer
resting in the shallows.  We didn’t think alike:
was it safe to swim, or not?  I can still hear

my mother calling my name as darkness fell
and fireflies sent messages that only they could spell.


and how can you train the body 
to be the body? 
Carrie Addington, “Waist Training”

How can I train this body,
with its baggage, the freight
load of dinners in France, plates
gleaming with sauce and cream,
sauté pans sizzling, a glass of rosé
at the start of the meal that’s raised
to the setting sun? Breakfast: an array
of croissants in a basket, display
of confitures, especially les fraises
des bois, wild strawberries. Cushioned
in a chair, I’m sedentary: at my keyboard
writing essays or reading a roman à clef.
The days when I ran before dawn, gone.
Praise be to my left knee; the right one says
mercy going down stairs. The pain in places
I never knew existed. Ahead, there’s a station,
and I’m slowly chugging towards it.
No weight training at the gym
or miles on the exercycle can stay this decline.
In the passenger car, a conductor sways,
pushing his clicker, punching tickets: sprays
of confetti, little o’s litter the aisles, ricochet.


           Whoever can see through all fear
            Will always be safe
                 Lao Tsu, The Tao Te Ching

It’s a day of brilliant blue, lightly smudged
with chalky clouds. In the larger world, there’s
fracking, climate change, industrial sludge.
But here, none of this can reach us. Who cares

about the news? I’m in this lawn chair,
secure in its embrace. In the distance,

the surf of traffic, the hum of bees. Chances
are, none of us gets to live forever.
The shadow of the vulture on the lawn
cannot dispel this blue euphoria.

Barbara Crooker is author of twelve chapbooks and ten full-length books of poetry, including  Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press, longlisted for the Julie Suk award from Jacar Press, The Book of Kells, which won the Best Poetry Book of 2019 Award from Poetry by the Sea, and Slow Wreckage, forthcoming from Grayson Books. Her other awards include: Grammy Spoken Word Finalist, the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council fellowships in literature.  Her work appears in literary journals and anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Two of Barbara’s books can be purchased on the links below, including Slow Wreckage, from which these poems were selected.

Hollywood Woman A Poem by Sara L Russell 18th March 2023

She has had an illustrious lifestyle
and many well-earned accolades;
donates to some causes quite worthwhile
she has gongs and awards now, in spades.

Her mansion’s been featured in Tatler
in Mode Avantgarde and OK;
She’s been called a trooper and a battler
and she always has plenty to say.

But her face is a bone of contention
it is fixed in a permanent grin
from a facelift hauled too tight to mention
and too much Botox in her skin,

And her lips, in an unnatural rictus,
have a top lip that sticks out too far,
Yet she boasts how her surgeon could fix us
if we weren’t as poor as we are.

She goes to cafés with her ladies
all from the same era as she;
and their pooches are treated like babies
and given fresh truffles for tea;

And when she is smiling or laughing
The waiters recoil in sheer fright
For her terrible grin leaves them gasping
She’s like a cobra poised to bite;

and some of her friends look like harpies
and some of them look like vampires
and their eyeliner’s drawn on with sharpies
and they drink to lost loves and desires;

But they carry on laughing regardless
For they clothes-shop at Rodeo Drive;
They are diamonds of high grade and hardness,
though they look to be barely alive.


Sara L Russell aka pinkyandrexa

Sara Louise Russell, aka PinkyAndrexa, is a UK poet and poetry ezine editor, specialising particularly in sonnets, lyric-style poetry and occasionally writing in more modern styles. She founded Poetry Life & Times and edited it from 1998 to 2006, when she handed it over to Robin Ouzman Hislop and Amparo Arrospide; Robin now runs it as Editor from Poetry Life & Times at this site.  Her poems and sonnets have been published in many paper and online publications including Sonnetto Poesia, Mindful of Poetry and Autumn Leaves a monthly Poetry ezine from the late Sondra Ball. Her sonnets also currently appear in the recently published anthology of sonnets Phoenix Rising from the Ashes. She is also one of the first poets ever to be published on multimedia CD ROMs, published by Kedco Studios Inc.; the first one being Pinky’s Little Book of Shadows, which was featured by the UK’s national newspaper The Mirror, in October 1999. (Picture link for Mirror article) Angel Fire. And the 2024 AI version of The Perils of Norris cartoon, by Sara L Russell using Canva Pro AI, Episode 1. The Perils of Norris featured from this site Poetry Life and Times

When the Messiah Comes poems from Aieka by Daniela Ema Aguinsky Translated from Spanish by Amparo Arróspide & Robin Ouzman Hislop


La foto de mi abuela el día de su casamiento

Sé que no lo deseabas
pero lo hiciste.
El buen chico judío asignado
no resultó
tan buen chico.

Pasé tu edad
no me casé con el mío.
Lo deje ir lejos
una noche de luna
en la terraza
tomó mi mano y dijo

no me gustan las chicas
con las uñas pintadas.

Las mías
eran rojas
y dejaban marcas
en las paredes de su intestino.

A veces recuerdo al goy
de la fábrica de máquinas de coser
gritaba tu nombre
en la cueva privada de su boca.

soprano de interiores
en una caja húmeda
durante un corte de luz

vos empezás a irte
yo recién estoy llegando. 


The photo of my grandmother on her wedding day

I know you didn't want to
but you still did.
The assigned good Jewish boy
did not turn out to be
such a good boy.

I am past your age
I didn't marry mine.
I let him get away
a moonlit night
on the terrace
he took my hand and said

I don't like girls
with painted nails.

were red
and left marks
on the walls of his intestine.

Sometimes I remember the goi*
from the sewing machine factory
he screamed your name
in the private cave of his mouth.

indoor soprano
a match
in a wet match box
when there is a fuse

you begin to depart
I'm just arriving.

* Goi (non Jewish boy)



Me tiré ácido
me raspé la piel
y me escribí encima.

Abajo quedaron huellas
los textos que no llegaron
al canon de mi existencia.

Que vengan los cabalistas
los estudiantes de Talmud
voy a desplegarme sobre la mesa,
una escritura sagrada.

Desnúdenme con cuidado
rastreen los indicios
discutan el estado original
de esta mujer borrada.



I threw acid on myself
scraped my skin
and wrote on it.

Traces were left below
the texts that did not make it
to the canon of my existence.

Let the Cabalists come
students of the Talmud
I'm going to spread myself on a table,
a sacred script

Undress me with care
track the signs
discuss the original state
of this erased woman.


Las copas están hechas para romperse

Lo sé
desde que mi abuela guardaba la vajilla
de su abuela, en un aparador especial
que nunca se abría
por lo delicadas que eran
esas copitas verdes de tallos finos como lirios
capacidad mínima, brillantes.

Nada ameritaba
de su estado decorativo
los nietos no le habíamos dado
una jupá, un compromiso, un nacimiento.
No le habíamos dado nada.

Pero mi abuela sabía mejor que nadie
que las copas
están hechas
para romperse:

van a quebrarse
mientras lavás los platos
o estallar contra el piso cuando levantás la mesa
un día que estás sobrepasada
o se le van a caer a tu nieta, dentro de veinte años,
cuando se mude sola a su primer departamento.

Van a resistir
como las personas viejas resisten
hasta quebrarse
un día cualquiera de sol.



I know
since my grandmother put away the crockery
of her grandmother, in a special sideboard
she never opened
because of how delicate they were
those little green glasses with thin stems like lilies
bright in miniature capacity 

Nothing was worth
disturbing them
from their ornamental state     
grandchildren hadn´t give her
a chuppah*, an engagement, a birth. 
We hadn't given her anything.

But my grandmother knew better than anyone
that glassware
are made to be broken

they are going to break
while you wash the dishes
or explode on the floor when you ´re clearing the table
stressed out
or your granddaughter will drop them in twenty years´ time
when she moves into her first apartment alone.

They will resist
as old people resist
until breaking
any sunny day.

* chuppah: a Jewish wedding


                Cuando venga el Mesías van a curarse todos los enfermos
                     pero el tonto va a seguir siendo tonto.
                      Refrán Idish

Cuando venga el Mesías

y reconstruyan el Tercer Templo
no quiero estar arriba
mirando a los hombres rezar
en círculos que cantan y bailan
mientras mujeres charlan
y chicos gritan.

Cuando venga el Mesías
no quiero estar arriba
con el humo de los sacrificios
abajo los sacerdotes entran
y salen como amantes
el nombre sagrado.

Cuando venga el Mesías
y todos retornemos a la tierra
quiero estar en la tierra de este mundo.


                   When the Messiah comes, all the sick will be cured.
                        but the fool will remain a fool.
                         Yiddish saying

When the Messiah comes

and they rebuild the Third Temple
I don't want to be above
watching men pray
in circles singing and dancing
while women chat
and children shout

When the Messiah comes
I don't want to be above
with the smoke of sacrifices
the priests entering below
and exiting like lovers
the sacred name.

When the Messiah comes
and we all return to earth
I want to be on the earth of this world.


Teléfono fijo

Mis papás me dieron un teléfono fijo
la línea está incluída dijeron
tenelo por las dudas
y quedó en el piso

cuando suena, rara vez
sé que son ellos
(nadie más tiene el número)
me siento en el sillón
espero tres tonos y atiendo

a veces una noticia terrible otras
una invitación para almorzar
lo único fijo este teléfono.



My parents gave me a landline
the line is paid for they said
keep it just in case
and it stayed on  the floor

when it rings, rarely
I know it's them
(no one else has its number)
I sit on the couch
I wait three rings and answer

sometimes terrible news other times
an invitation for lunch

The only fixed thing this phone. 

Daniela Ema Aguinsky (Buenos Aires, 1993) is a writer and filmmaker based in Argentina. She Directed the shorts Virtual Guard, Hurricane Berta, 7 Tinder Dates, and several others. She published Amante japonés, Aieka (2023) and Terapia con animales (2022) in Argentina, Mexico and Spain, book that won The National Poetry Prize Storni in 2021. She is also the spanish translator to the California based poet Ellen Bass; Todos los platos del menú (Gog & Magog, 2021). Twitter: laglu Instagram: laglus

Amparo Arróspide (born in Buenos Aires) is an M.Phil. by the University of Salford. As well as poems, short stories and articles on literature and films in anthologies and international magazines, she has published five poetry collections: Presencia en el Misterio, Mosaicos bajo la hiedra, Alucinación en dos actos y algunos poemas, Pañuelos de usar y tirar and En el oído del viento. The latter is part of a trilogy together with Jacuzzi and Hormigas en diaspora, which are in the course of being published. In 2010 she acted as a co-editor of webzine Poetry Life Times, where many of her translations of Spanish poems have appeared, she has translated authors such as Margaret Atwood, Stevie Smith and James Stephens into Spanish, and others such as Guadalupe Grande, Ángel Minaya, Francisca Aguirre, Carmen Crespo, Javier Díaz Gil into English. She takes part in poetry festivals, recently Centro de Poesía José Hierro (Getafe).
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; at
You may visit Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

They say He was a carpenter | Carpenter Poem

They say He was a carpenter.
I can only say,
I have known carpenters.
They don’t seemed to have been trained.
They seem to have always known boards
and decks
and floors
and walls
and square, always square
like a flag their square
like Plato’s perfect order,
Shakespeare’s law,
their square.
I wonder if He was on a roof
hoisting rafters without a shirt
driving ancient nails into ancient boards,
glistening in the summer sun,
smiling at the ladies
with the work of His hands.
My friend the carpenter has given me a deck,
a porch
to watch His birds
take joy in building nests.

by David Jackson
David is the Publisher of
For decks and carpentry in Murfreesboro, Tn it’s ZZConstruction

Singularity Poem by David Jackson

Trillions of galaxies and
each one unique,
all filled with solar systems and
each one unique.
Every single person is different,
every rock, every bird,
every one of us
everything in the
is a singularity.
There will never
That is a
Good luck
Be safe
Be kind
Be you

To kill or not to kill Bill. A Poetry Text by Robin Ouzman Hislop. Excerpt from Cartoon Molecules

To kill or not to kill Bill*										


Weary   if it weren’t a country from whose border
the slings and arrows of ardent hope for   die

us   to put up with those of them
put up with those of them   to die

you that   actually   Bill's last bullet to get to this point

the question for him was obscured by reflecting on it
end that we would all or not
unexplored natural miseries    human beings as simple as that
and the consideration that creates the that we don’t know about!

and i the movie advertisements refer to

so an unbearable situation   or to an authority
and the advantage that must make us pause
that must make us pause

 i can tell now   can tell now   the only one left   only one left

that’s us   that follows that first impulse of troubles that afflict one
the great and important plans life    because   who would tolerate
to suffer   we might have been the best   with a naked blade?
oneself with a naked blade?


who would continue to exist
and end the dread of the love
the calamity of such a long problem
because in the end our life is a hurry for others
who are diluted to the point of sleep

perhaps thinking about a sleep of death
this mortal body has to endure
is in us all

i went on what hell of a lot of people i wasn't

the whips and scorns
the pain of rejected time
the tyranny against this load   sweating and grunting
the prospect    sweating and grunting the prospect
that confounds us and makes a traveller
return    ay   that’s the thing       ,

looked dead   didn't i?     dead   didn't  i?    well        .,


As to that and the consideration
of impulses of troubles afflicting   grunting
the prospect that confounds rejected time
the tyranny that creates the that we miserable human beings
as simple mortal body have to endure
that would continue to exist and a long problem
because its an unbearable situation

the one I'm driving to right   a coma

or to tolerate   to suffer us to end the dread
of the that we don’t know about
so we wouldn't be in a hurry for others
from whose borders of authority 									
and the advantage plans of life - because
who put up with those of hope for us to die
all or not?

 a roaring rampage of revenge    rampage of revenge  

unexplored natural might have been the best for us
that follows from the first of them
the question for him of love   the calamity of such   the end of our life
with a naked blade obscured by reflecting on a sleep of death
the slings and arrows of ardent whips and scorns
the pain diluted to the point of weary
if it weren’t a country that must make us pause
against this sweating load and the one great important thinking about      ,

the last when I arrive at my destination


Or to tolerate   to suffer us
has been the best for us   that follows us
to pause against this sweating load
and that would continue to exist
even if it weren’t a country   that must make that -

the one i'm driving to     i'm driving to

that confounds rejected time   the tyranny of a sleep of death
the slings of life   because who puts up with arrows of ardent whips
and the scorns in a hurry for others whose such ends our life with?

a hell of a lot of people now    can tell now    i can tell satisfaction    i've killed you that

as to that   and the consideration of end   the dread
of the that we as a simple mortal body have to endure
from the first of them   the question of a naked blade
obscured by reflecting on impulses of troubles
afflicting   grunting the prospect
all or not

actually   Bill's last bullet the movie advertisements refer to as an in for i got bloody last

unexplored natural might have been for him of love
the calamity of long problem   because of its unbearable situation

only one left    only one left

the borders of authority and the advantage plans
pain diluted to the point of  weariness
if we don’t know about it    so we wouldn't be it!

the one i'm driving to    i'm driving to

or not to be   creates the that for us to die   to die

when I only woke up    i went on one left    only one left    i wasn't    people i wasn't    
but put me in a coma – destination    it wasn't from one    wasn't from one more    
only one more    to get to this point   but right a coma     ,

To kill or not to kill Bill   text derived extracts from Hamlet’s 
‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy Hamlet Act3 Scene1 taken from the No Sweat Shakespeare Hamlet ebook 
& Uma Thuman’s car scene in Kill Bill 2. Molecules-Robin Ouzman Hislop Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; at
You may visit Robin Ouzman Hislop about author.
See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)