Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

Meg Barboza

Five Poems

  • Poem Read Over the Radio
  • A Reading From the Book of Letters
  • Infrastructure and Planning
  • Wilderness as a Plot Device
  • The Protagonists

Poem Read Over the Radio

That was the gulf feeding into

The inlet opening

The gamut of coastline the relief map

Distributaries softening

Up over the lawns the precipice the green

So hard the nose smarts the earth determined

The word dismantle

As the radio waves rise up

In defense as the public exits

The theaters the siren is a baby

Interrupting & choking as you drift

Away as you were saying please

Please let me be here

A little longer singing

I don’t know why I love you

But I do I don’t know why I cry

So but I do the feed

Refreshing its assault hissing

You be the lamp I’ll be the hurricane

You be the body I’ll be the torrent

A Reading From the Book of Letters

Dear Odie,

I grab candy with my bare hands in the grocery store

Openly sinning against cleanliness stark raving mad

& behaving badly not stealing not unlike

An explosion of flimsy plastic bags the sound

Of someone suffocating inside

Those flimsy plastic bags like something’s

Going down like that’s all just street talk for something

That can’t be spoken otherwise for fear

Like whistling or saying your God-given

Name like snow very generally in Joyce’s story is our own

White mortality our sadness too

Have I written yet about these amazing watercolors

Painted by Hitler –a newly inappropriate expression

Of this theory I have about bad people about how people

Are bad but they participate in the same world our world

How daringly new is my violence how inventive this

Hatred as it spreads across the nation how like His raiment is

The Dream we can’t carry on without being morbid but you know

What’s really awful about that story of Abraham is when

God said to Abraham kill your son and Abraham got up

And saddled his donkey like Hannibal saddled

His crushing elephants & led them into war like

He was prepared for something my theory is he knows

These things we don’t know yet we hope not

To endure that evil isn’t concentrated but

Thorough and among us in our clothing it rises

Above us I had never even once considered that

A strong wind threw the baby birds down

I thought there was always a hand a conspiracy

A machine a great big voluntary action how

Every muscle blinks at once and grabs without a word

Not the sound of Earth reverberating how

Unlike the bomb is the flinch?


Infrastructure and Planning

Young disaster of the body

Of the water of the airspace

You cannot rehearse

Your demise enough

It could be a bridge

You cannot fathom

The wake of general

Destruction as it is represented

On multicolored maps you don’t

Build the shelter to fall

Apart but you should

Follow the blue

Print to the heart every

Room is a triage cascade

Of windows of maladies

Contagion unable to stop

The advancing disease

It will come to you

It will cover you

The emergency was so big

It became a distant war so

Hard it smarted like snowballs

With ice white hot as light

The eyes open into

During the American Revolution

They dragged a great chain

Across the river to block

Invading ships if these gestures are

Also language show me

The signal for





Multiple groups of people

In an enclosed space are

Called a crush when they

All leave at once that’s

The exodus I said FIRE

Inside look I said I found

A boat

If one of us knows

How to sail will we be

In the sea or on it

The sea made of glass

My heart of the sea

The stomach of the whale

That ate me

In the days after in the nights

When the mountain hadn’t

Come to Mohammed we

Wandered longly the

Loyal dogs departed for

There was no light


We imagined the emergency

Then we practiced survival

Waving the white of our surrender

Everywhere making anything

Into an opening I’m not just coming

Into the shore I’m crashing hear them

Cheer out in the harbor

The silent anniversary of our Volvo

In the autumn I was fire

In the name of Carolus Linneaus

Father beloved of taxonomy

For his honor

For the lake did look

Like the ocean like

The insufficient distance

Between glisten and

Liken the island

Is only quasi-legal

Shanties flora with fauna

I wish

I was brave as a sculpture

A great big house

On the water akin to

A prow along the cliffs

Above the Hudson this wanton

Explorer’s dream is bullshit

I said it

On the bridge or

In the darkness I want

To fit together bride

Of multitudes carving up

The railway trestles with

This anthem abandon


fat pigeons of the daylight feeding on garbage


to be decent pigeons this stupid decorated town


holiday apparent in the streets there will be a parade


puppies my sweater was one of the many things I lost


across country the way I did a fire on the prairie

a light

in the city the problem is there are enough sad


to comprise the distance alone in winter


the great swallower every few miles a stranded


car in the headlights no radio station alive

this is

a quaint little dream we have of becoming


wearing a different stupid town without our problems


disaster is almost always caused by Zeus we discussed


once over dinner when he blows the survivors to the Lotus


island they forget the wanting that has propelled the story

this far

why the anchor is a symbol of hope when it’s so heavy don’t

ask me

I’m not in charge the method for naming hurricanes is purely


sometimes the world is not ordered for posterity sometimes

the herald

falls in with local cannibals and must be abandoned


gonna protest that the horseshoe and the wishbone have the same


shape and omen seems indisputable til nightfall when you can’t

make out

the sky from the road light blue churning dark purple into the deep

then black

unmeaning & us unseen & unspent unaccounted for

Wilderness as a Plot Device

The car becomes this gesture of the world moving in the landscape where everything human Appears sinister decimated cacti distancing towers what must be

500 miles of a wire fence holding in nothing winged of nothing radio transmissions shimmering Unseen some warning every few miles regarding radiators google

The mountain we are driving through google succulent water source no google succulents Blooming in the desert a ride on the vast like Jerusalem now all of us in our

Vessels on fire it felt like the serviceable ideas of valor

Had abandoned us and the mountain was a terror and a periodic sign regarding the high Probability of fire erasing you just didn’t dare google spigot or the origin of the phrase

Like drinking from a fire hose they were saying about the killer bees here they were saying Its fire season they were saying beware of mountain lions it was a relief when

We arrived without dying it was a relief the dogs were not left out overnight it was a long way Back down & in whose countenance we left civil life behind not fearing the desert

Not worshiping it

The Protagonists

We made of everyone our requisite protest as this sun setting

Windward but gallant along the bridge and facades keeps the air thick

In difficulty there was this oxygenating quality

To the day we were not hungered not lessening not orthodox

In this undertaking look this relentless taste of copper look this song

Of aubergine we reign neon magenta in the distance soft warmth

Assembly of

Proper horizon gradients creamy tangerine some cement oxidizing in our mouths

Nodding fluidly not hastening here not shade saying we make the police so we can

Be the police proclaiming this shall be the police state traveling

Waving signs that read one just gets swept up toward some tender

Water placing the radiant cap of twilight the point at which night

Becomes us not deafening not militant in our desires ever fastening to the mast

Of it the voice soft and we feathers blown over meant to witness wanting some illness

To answer to lend legitimacy context licking each wound with the textured font

Of the tongue drawing the margin not stopping

On the mantle of our crossing who maligned these narratives

Of our resistance forging toward not against compromise

Not yet not yet

Subsumed the wilding glory in cities the mind vernacular blue

These narratives of our capitulation counting venial we were listed

In the Corporation Wiki as interlopers but we were the protagonists

In the world of the world we say the protagonists the clouds moving in from behind

Over the periphery over our heads like a story like the theory of everyone we named

Enumerated the old meanings we think of the war we say it again we

Are rooms occupied not darkened against spies not acquiescent in the mind never in the heart

Resisting watching yet the watching wanting to take part in some radiant

Singularity the non-

Violent program of our oversight responsible for this assembly our

Replacement government is compassionate currencies in kindness we wed it

To the grey world around us logging all manner of erotic responses pre-empting

Seascapes every arrival we slipping in and out of we

Were slipping loose this litany of protection we laid it down again

Upon the water there is a divergent water a riot

Of ugly injuries a novel the way it goes on the crude machinations of this bluing

Morning where is a current turning on itself and ravishing you feel all human to tell

The truth about it we are an age of conviction we employ innumerable

Messengers innumerable signs adaptors so adopted a policy of erasure not in relationship

To each other but the world like an ocean not triumphant like the will not so willing

As the body indexing the true metropolis riding subtly through the breathless paceless

Violet one deep going down violence in autumn it was autumn burning off it was wicker

Out of place thatch and shoal the sallow summer spit out of memory afire afar

Aft of sunset everyone small is swimming away

Into flames we didn’t feel it get colder our feet never touched the bottom and buildings

On the shore that would not last

We were left carrying our fixed values, a loosely knit

Family of arsons we had been informed we had been here before we were made known

We had names for the faithful who burning in earnest might resemble the protagonists might

Enter the plot and the fold we afford it ever advancing swathed in knowing

Shining armament clever all over with cunning raw ash in our midst—

Meg Barboza

Meg Barboza's poems have appeared in 1913, Court Green, Denver Quarterly, Jubilat, Little Red Leaves, New American Writing, notnostrums, P-Queue, Weird Deer, VOLT, and elsewhere. She earned a MFA in Poetry from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives in Brooklyn and works for the New York City Department of Education as the Director for Engagement.