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poems by

Jodi Barnes

Poetry chapbook, 50 pages. Cover price: $7

($5 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-286-6

Release date: 2010



J_Barnes_Px1Jodi Barnes is a poet and writer in Cary, North Carolina. She has a PhD from The University of Georgia and has taught graduate and undergraduate students all facets of human resource management, ethics, leadership and change management at three Research I universities. She has also been a journalist, an HR manager and a consultant.

When she is not writing, Jodi helps teens understand how group identity (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender) differences and commonalities enrich confidence and competency. She has been a writer-in-residence for Wake County schools for the past two years.

Her favorite author is Tom Robbins and her favorite teachers are her daughters Sarah, Ali and RaeAnna, and her aiding/abetting husband, JB Maddox. Jodi has moved households 24 times–that she can remember.

Three of her poems are featured in the Fall 2010 issue Iodine Poetry Journal.


In her first poetry collection, Jodi Barnes takes the reader on what seems like a bittersweet series of moves and wanderings, as she both examines and muses on the mundane and the spiritual… the ordinary and the extraordinary… reality and myth. With the observation and bite of Anne Sexton and Sharon Olds, and the wit and softness of Kay Ryan and Mary Oliver, Jodi Barnes evokes the pain and joy of transition, the familiar clutter of the uprooted, and the restlessness most of us feel when we’re packing and unpacking in our search for meaning through the impermanence of life, while moving from one place to another. She declares, “I don’t believe in God,” yet “Thank(s) whatever god you, my goddess will, ” while affirming, “My core seeks root in clay.” Read this collection and find yourself engaged with this poet, seeking where you, yourself should be rooted.

Jonathan K. Rice
Publisher/Editor Iodine Poetry Journal,
author of UKULELE and other poems

Atheist’s Confession

I give boxes
three-dimensional life.

My fingers pry flat board,
push easily toward
imagined diagonals
to frame rectangular space.

Maybe this is how god
did it, popped us into place–
but I don’t believe in god.

I convert my assembly,
once collapsed cards
into cubes of accommodation.

For my sake they protect
fragile scraps, pointless artifacts
of a life that might be saved.

I’m knee-deep in random evidence.

This End Up stares me,
dares me decline
eternal life insurance
against moth, rust and thieves.

My tokens undress at will,
small thrills of possession,
an obsessive testament
to hold on to the past.

Corrugated tombs wait
while I ruminate how to wrap
candy heart dust,
crumbling clay clowns.

I want to ask my daughters:
How much is enough to keep?

But this is not their life.
They have more time, less room
to decide god’s fate.

Less careful, more tightly I pack,
filling holes, closing flaps
where contents shift but matter remains

weighty, real, ready for me
to deal with each
unnecessary, precious thing

I will save to forget
until the next time
I’m moved to remember

I don’t believe in god.

The Hardness of Cardboard Philosophy

Memories hide beneath cardboard wings,
seek solace against worn seams.
Last night, I dreamed this box
grew feathers and flew away.

But it stays, obeys gravity,
reminds me of a frayed decision:
to face the weight or leave this matter
to tidy imagination.

I think I remember why it’s no use
to ply back flaps on time capsules.
It’s the same stuff. Pixies don’t exist.
And there is no magic in this dust.

Yet something pulls me to the drab,
unrelenting, rectangular shape,
my arms extend, my fingers bend
to search breaches in brittle tape.

Strands of hair, stale baby’s breath,
baptismal candle, eyelet gown,
first tooth, proof of life–
unmoved, they stare me down.

As I try to keep them dry,
not mourn her past, the missed–
angelic imps resist my wish; the box sits.
Another blurred present flies by.

Pretend Pioneer

My friends ask, are you moved in yet?
They mean is my stuff unpacked;
am I settled?
I envision wagon wheels,
mail-order brides, the frontier.

But here my sole risk is to trip
over cardboard,
the clutter of privilege.

Once I unwrap what I thought I’d need,
I circle camps of chattel on a polished floor,
stretch the metaphor of expansion,
contrast this mansion with teepee
desire — its flapping door.

Next time I’ll answer Hell No
I got to keep moving.

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