Friday, July 31, 2020


Photo by Warren Wong


While your Prom date was passed out
on a torn mattress on the floor of
your bedroom, barefoot in her black
cocktail dress, wicked matching purse
and wilted white carnation corsage, we
were tuxedoed and lip locked in
unspeakable passion - finally
released when you offered to drive me
home in your souped up, bass booming
barbaric Monte Carlo. My machismo boy. Sex
God. Rebel roughneck. Fine-as-hell
football player star. I was already your ride
or die, but then my skin became one
with the backseat. My hand prints emblazoned
on the window, your voice in my ear, panting
my name and declarations of your urban love.
You branded me like territory, left your mark
on my neck. On Monday morning,
there were rumors, faces
shocked at school with the unspoken
understanding: no one else was ever
allowed to touch me.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the poetry collection Souvenir Boys.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

I Want to Travel Your Body

Photo by Alin Olariu 


road trip on the tip of your convertible tongue
crash for the night in your motel eyes

hitchhike across the soft desert of your blades
skinny dip in the midnight pond of your palm

bang against your boardwalk hips
Ferris wheel across your fairground thighs

jet across your transatlantic skin
set the sea ablaze with your matchbook gaze

climb the walls of your California smile
hide from heat in your seductive shade

drink 'til dawn on the shores of your lips
hang on the edge of your souvenir sighs

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the poetry collection Souvenir Boys.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Paper Boy

Photo by Vladislav Klapin

At four a.m., it’s just me and my coaster bike, shoulder bag of papers,
AM radio headphones warming my ears. My hands sting from the snap
of rubber bands. My skin is blackened and smudged with newsprint, with
one-too-many mornings already leaving me lonely at thirteen. It’s my first
job. I’m no good at it. I fold on the front porch beneath yellow dull light, battling
blood thirsty bugs. I ride through the dark, ignoring street light shadows, secrets

brewing below the ridges of the cold asphalt threatening to crack this sleeping
city open wide. I pass by houses, pedal faster whenever Donna Summer comes
on the radio, or when I let Bonnie Tyler eclipse my hopeful heart. On dew
drenched lawns, I am Flashdance, Footloose, Fame. I am free because no one is
watching me dance except an imaginary boy. He breathes
love and devotion into my belief they exist. I make wishes and plans,

contemplate life beyond this paper route, certain my future will be newsworthy.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the poetry collection Souvenir Boys.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Cookies

Photo by Artyom Kulikov 


His mother kisses my cheek, leaves behind just a smudge
of crimson. I feel the comfort of her green silk dress and I know
why he is so calm. I cling to

the tray of cookies she baked just for me, balancing them
on the tip of my heart and the edge of my smile - it never falters,
not even when the snow is heavy.

She bundles up in her wool scarf and gloves, her knitted hat.
I watch her fingers tremble over each black button of her tattered
winter coat. But it’s her memories that keep her

warm. Back to Little Italy she goes to meet her Sicilian
friends. Amongst candles, Mass and spirit, she will
explain why her son has no bride. Crumbs will fill my lap.

Maybe next year, I will get a sweater.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the poetry collection Souvenir Boys.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


Photo by Dimitar Donovski


Tiptoe Tiptoe
You crept into my nature,
Like an escalated stare.
I want to feel your rise.
With my veneration,
I could make candles out of you,
Scorch away two seasons.
On the verge of autumn,
I am as willing as your whisper
To take the fall and make it ours.
My reverence for your words
Pounds like your glowing heart
Beneath me, burnt orange
Leaves, take me there.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the poetry collection Souvenir Boys.

Monday, June 17, 2019



Stop. I need to catch my breath. I caught you
stealing looks at me when you courted me
in the lobby of the Venetian. Vegas buzzed,
clanged, and twirled for us, shooting up
the casino sky with possibilities and lust. You
swayed me to take a midnight drive, to be-
come my 20-year-old lover, much like Juliette’s.
Yes, I wanted you, the way I want vanilla
ice cream to melt down the skin between
finger and thumb. You’re sticky and cool. The heat
of the boulevard covered us in the backseat,
as we licked the dirty desert clean. You took me

to the edge -
to the outskirts of town, night, flesh. There

I saw the hammer-smashed topaz tears, confetti
glass glittering the horizon with the promise of
a night with my Belagio boy. With you, I was seventeen
again – maybe twenty – when life was summer
all year long. The sky exploded above us
with independence. You touched my face, knew
I felt invincible when you breathed my name. Don’t
stop. I want to remember how the night slipped
through each lyric, pulse, window, tear, our fear
we would fall in love by morning. The sweet
promise living in the beautiful lips of the wind,
the moment we kissed Nevada. Good bye

to our jackpot hearts.

David-Matthew Barnes

This poem is featured in the collection Love and Detours.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hail Storm

It's after midnight.

Insomnia has struck again.

The night is still and quiet.

Even meditation apps won't do the trick.

Consider a pill but the consequences of a cloudy head tomorrow kill the decision.

Put headphones on and listen to Amy Shark.

You Think I Think I Sound Like God

Can never make it through this song without crying.

My mind is rattled and it moves in constant motion.

My feelings are a Ferris Wheel.

I want off this ride.

The storm hits out of nowhere.

Thunder cracks and the sound makes me jump.

Lightning flashes and for a second the truth is illuminated.

The reason I cannot sleep is clear.

Photo by Prokhor Minin
Because conflict and chaos are cruel and blue.

The hail pounds against the roof with a violent ferocity.

I wonder if this house will cave in all around me.

I wonder if I will ever sleep through the night again.

I wonder what it's like to not love so much.

The storm dies down and the stillness returns.

Chester Morris, Dolores Del Rio, and Richard Dix
in The Devil's Playground
I watch The Devil's Playground and feel bad for Richard Dix's character.

I decide Dolores Del Rio is playing a very unlikable leading lady.

I know I will be exhausted tomorrow.

For the rest of my life.