about the author

Alfredo Barnaby was born in Lima, Peru, and has lived in the northwest since the age of thirteen. He lives in Seattle, Washington, but is now working as an English teacher in Galicia, Spain. His poetry has been published in the Rio Grande Review, The Bitter Oleander, the Acentos Review, and the Medulla Review.

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The Levee

Alfredo Barnaby


An eye that knew no dream
gazed me back my words.

Hours I bounced on its iris
as light fell in a slow dust.

Drank wind on a rock eyelid,
retrieved my trusted brooms.

Scrubbed steps of grayish mud,
swept leaves in a locked room.


Ducks nibbled on morning rind,
trout chewed the seeds of dusk.
A cow roamed on, unfed,
tongue draped in moss.

Decks of doors I stacked on barks
for waves to cradle on
dry as plucked out leaves
on the stone jaws of the shore.

Blades sawed and thrust,
unraveled a stitched fog.
Wind hacked through the weeds.
Gusts treaded, cracking stalks.

The sun kneeled to fray ice shawls.
My name rose from the roads,
the hairlines of the fields,
like clouds of dust.

Heard my father speak,
tie my loose shoes with his words.
Heard waves shove a gasp
to a soft bed on the sand.

Heard the hollow thud of fruit,
cracks breathe below my steps.


I knew a shovel tilted past
the frontiers of the months,
that evening hailed in grains,
that I wore socks on roots.

I kneel under the shade
with my ear to the skin
to hear the weeping seed,
to heed the warning rot.

Days are buzzing in a box
buried well below the road—

mist cars tremble through
as dawn twists in a web,

an entanglement of breath,
on the windshield.

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