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By Nicholas Barnes

vicious offered me

a turquoise cigarette

just minutes before

the crystal dropped.

it's funny, you see,

smokers are better

at conversation

because they can

pull you into the frost

on a cold dec 31 night

so they can get theirs

while you stumble through

sentences unrehearsed.

clumsy and awkward.

shivering and rattletooth.

you're the boy hostage

to convention and

the ghosts of a

smoking camel

and patty hearst.

one burned out,

one still hangs on,

but your stranger

keeps puffing.

and so will this earth

on its cancerous route

reeling around that

helium tumor

one more time.

one more time:

the maypole virgin

will try spinning

gold from straw.

though she’s getting older

than she’d like to admit.


Nicholas Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Oregon University. He is currently working as an editor in Portland, and enjoys music, museums, movie theaters, and rain. His least favorite season is summer. His favorite soda is RC Cola.

He can be found online on his homepage.


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