Walter Bargen


An ear bit off, listening a theft.
What really started the barroom fight,
no one is sure.  Everyone offers a story
with a different beginning but the same end.
To save the deaf flesh, to keep the wrinkled shell
alive, doctors sewed the ear to his thigh.
His hearing paces the floor.  With the next
threat, he'll beat it out of town. 

A mill worker doesn't have his hand severed
but crushed.  His wrist is a Rorschach print.
Hand a movie's cast off prop.  It's grafted
just below his nipple, over his heart.
For a week there is something feebly reaching
from his chest, heartfelt but grasping
nothing of consequence.

Church icons show saints ripping open
their chests, exposing a thorn-enthralled heart,
ready to rise on rosaceous wings. 
Their hands left to hold a splintered body. 
How easily we dissemble.  Muscles conspire
to hold down bones and broken promises. 
Lovers' sad hands sweep
over morning's smoothed sheets.

Date of Birth: July 20, 1948
Location: Ashland, MO
Occupation: Assessment Consultant
Publications: Iowa Review, Notre Dame Reivew, Boulevard, Georgia Review, New Letters, etc.
Books: Fields of Thenar (1980), Mysteries in the Public Domain (1990), Yet Other Water (1990), Rising Waters (1994), At the Dead Center of Day (1997), The Vertical River (1996), Water Breathing Air(1999), Harmonic Balance (2001)
Awards: Quarter AFter Eight Prose Prize; Chester H. Jones Foundation Award

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