Poetry: Selections from Barbara Genova

my cousin brings a gun home 

check this. It's in my hand and he wants me to hold for a minute. 
His mother's porch: early afternoon, summer; three separate parents around. 
Says un paziente gave it to him – that would be a customer; my cousin's a doctor, I wonder 
what kind of patient gives a doctor a gun 
is it to hide away, is it in lieu of payment 
straight from the heart, here's to you doc, no I owe you 
and do not ask – not then not now 
whole point of the show being, it's weird but it's cool, eh, people 

My cousin, who was a face surgeon by that time, also: 
got grown-man wasted off emergency room anesthetics 
got me on pharmaceutical opium at fifteen and a half 
might not work he said, and I quote, since we took alcohol 
they used to rig each other up, flatmates 
in a session he recalled the one word he said was fuuuuck 
followed by coma silence not a twitch 
and then five hours later: fuuuuck 
is it any wonder he wanted to blow me once – just a stray thought – and he told me in a text, five to seven years after 
is it any wonder he married a plum doll who went maniac 
hit me again come on, the hit being botox the sugar lickiest of jabs 
I love it when soldiers marry babes, but you gotta wonder 
how much of it comes down to the high/low, the unaccounted months 
the guns the sudden departures from metropolitan areas, plural 
how much of it is, i'm gonna marry the first girl ever to wink at me 
gonna pump ten kids into her the rest will sort itself out 
and we'll live happily in a chekovian set up 
abundance, a simple home, we'll get dogs i'll be a country doctor


picture: top of a staircase, a noose swinging, rust on the dawn floor 
or, picture: the lady of the house padding in, track pajamas, cigarette behind her ear 
head tilting, does it change, no 
what, do I talk first, 
does the corpse move around and dictate the terms of its surrender 
it's the first time I've been made a widow 
sure it's a dream come true, however : 

isobel has popularized: wearing vile band tees on slim jeans, 
wearing cowboy hats as a disguise 
and trying to have one photographer on your blue side, 
she has schooled herself in the kill switch double pose of freeze and light up
an elegant circuit 
that's according to izzie – it may be tacky and demonic 
suggest it to her please, she's british 
or, she's been pretending so long she believes 
furious grounds a cover of self determination, 

did she do it? 
like, how, though

one, you must have survived a celebrity something 
two, you must be the last girl, or guy, on the scene 
all about lily chou chou being frayed and comfortable in your status of maybe albatross maybe socialite – it is a gift! how else would you wear infamy as a mark of distinction without being swallowed by the  demimonde of libel and club promoters 
make yourself a successor, an orphan, the witness of unspeakable deeds 
make yourself transparent in being just a person 
start with the penitence route it's good 

the feral teenager she visited in rehab / 
                     / smile, hand out, the left, i’m isobel chapman-lee / 
                                                             / who?  / 
was the trial run, subject: adventures in world building 
she sat down on the picnic bench, legs a twenty, complimented the child's affinity for mug shots, then: 

by the virtue of outliving him, you have been thrown on a most unusual path 
and you will walk it until the day you kick 
might as well be prepared 
i wasn't 

can I talk to you a minute hey cowboy you're so tall 

when you're fixing to court an american, a nice boy, an anglo, you name it, 
please make the effort to remember what went wrong during previous attempts 
the charm offensive is yours for the taking of course! the accent: 
perfect the vaguely eastern – clean, drop a the out of four 
you may want to leave room 
brighton beach! cradle of civilization 
tomorrow I call agency 
yes yes east is east if you can hack it 
develop/discover affinity for tracksuits and Baltimore sound 
no one there to recall what shape bugs used to be anymore 
what is east?, everything! you can be what you want once trunk opens 
still be silent as hell about how many attempts have there been 
get clinical, bleach steel sink ring 
mention class exchange, mention suitors if you feel lucky  
you don't know if he's possessive in a way you'll find killer 
you don't want to wake up in the morgue mid-autopsy do you, again

Barbara Genova (she/her/they) is the pen name of a public woman who went private. Poetry and stories written as Barbara have been published / are forthcoming atThe Daily Drunk, surfaces.cx, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sledgehammer Lit, Scissors and Spackle, The Final Girl Bulletin Board, Fahmidan Journal, Misery Tourism, Hallowzine (2021), Expat Press,The Bear Creek Gazette, Discretionary Love,and theHecate Magazine anthology issue #2(DECAY, winter 2021).