Barbara Brooks, Author, Poems, Poet, The Catbird Sang, Hillsborough, Orange County of North Carolina, Finishing Line Press.

Published Poems by Barbara Brooks

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and I am carving a pumpkin.
It started as blossom yellow, the first color
you become when your liver fails.

Ms. Smith is way beyond this.

I cut out the top, reach in,
dig out the seeds. Some fall back
into the hollow; just as she

slips into the dark
only the dying know.

Eyes, Nose. Sharp teeth. No ears.

I slice a little wedge out
of the cap for air flow, push
the candle into the base. She has gone
past pumpkin orange, in fact
not even pumpkins turn
the red-gray-green she
has become as her new liver
fails. After tricks and treats
the mouth will look like hers,

sunk in and soft. Halloween's over,
I burn the candle a few more days.

Just because I like it.

Lungs balloon, spring ribs
into oaken staves, push his diaphragm
to the bottom of his barreled chest.
Nails and lips purple as blood shunts
to the brain, kidneys. Nasal cannula,

oxygen concentrator, 50 foot tube
trails him around the house.
Can't crank up the liter flow, stops
the drive to breathe. Yesterday,
rescue inhalers failed. His muscles quit.

At the hospital, the doctors strap
a breathing mask on him, later
a tube snakes down his throat.
Red stop sign on tobacco yellow paper
hangs above the bed-


the barefoot review 6/2012


The Holsteins salt and pepper
spring-green grass. It's the early
morning cud chewing, they rest
under the warming

Heat waves
to shimmer
the pavement
as I drive
to evaluate
Ms. Smith.

Drop by drop, the cows' udders swell.
Milk bags sway between their legs.
Time to enter the milking shed. Each tag read,
logged into the record, the day's production

Daily, a computer
my quota,

Number 50 is dropping off,
probably due to age. An old milk cow
isn't much good for anything
except dog food.

Chagrin River Review Fall 2012


At the gravel pit pond last year, trees stood tall.
Maple crimson and gold, redbud yellow reflected
from green water to autumn blue sky. Song sparrows
slept in the cedar. Wood ducks swam in the swamp,
sliders basked on the logs.

This fall, someone must have played with a bulldozer.
Gnarled cedar roots reach towards the sky, the maples'
trunks lie half split along the banks, the swamp empty.

In the cool morning, it suns on a cut trunk,
burnt orange wings with silvered edges,
matching black spots on each wing.
Warmed, the butterfly closes its wings,
in the center a tiny metallic question mark.

Earthspeak Mar 2012


Stream flows, not quite out of its banks.
Titmouse calls, an echo.
Birch leaf, white flag of winter's surrender,
flutters to ground.
Spider floats silk between trees.
Rain drops jewel redbud.

Squirrel breakfasts on seeds,
starts a nest. Cuts and balances a twig,
maneuvers it to the crotch of sycamore.
Takes a break, inspects a hole in dead snag,
leaps to maple only to disappear.

Wind tears through greening tulip poplar,
rips tender leaf from branch.
Worm dries in sun, rain-driven
from soil. Ferns unravel by rotting log.
May apples umbrella forest floor.


The two elephant matriarchs
know their herds are nearing
each other. Agitated,
the two leaders trumpet,
pivot in circles,

defending their families. The calf ignores
her mother's command and wanders
to investigate. The members
of the other herd circle the youngster,

fold her into their midst. Her mother
squeals, her trunk tastes the wind
for the scent of her child. She rushes
the kidnappers, ivory slicing the air,
but the calf

is taken further into the opposing herd.
Her mother rips the trees,
tusks grass into the air, stands
calling even as her herd moves
off to water. Once they take your child,
you have nothing left to lose.

Granny Smith Magazine Jan 2012


No forest over which the red shouldered hawk
can call and display, no oak in which to nest.
The black poll warbler has no stop-over
on its way north, no insects to fuel its flight.
Sun will not be shredded onto the forest floor.
The tuxedoed towhee will have no leaves
in which to scratch, its song will not spill
into morning air. Nor will wild turkey
have places to search for roots and insects,
no roost free from the fox's hunt.
No shade will remain for the fern to uncoil
or for trillium's subtle bloom. No leaf mold
in which the centipede can hide.
What's left is scarred
and weeps sap.

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