Saturday, December 29, 2018

#54 Backstory of the Poem "Aftermath" by Gene Barry

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***This is the fifty-forth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 
Title Photo Below:  Gene Barry doing a poetry reading in Amsterdam in 2014.  Copyright permission granted by Gene Barry for this CRC Blog Post Only 
#54 Backstory of the Poem
by Gene Barry

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?   My mother rejected me the moment I was born and demonstrated her hatred for me as frequently as she could. This cult-like style of brainwashing in turn programmed my siblings to also reject and hate me. In my post anaesthetic haze, I received flashbacks of the numerous times friends had told me that they had never seen such hatred as the hatred my mother had for me.

Despite the fact that I had stepped out of the family scapegoat role my mother had welded to me, my present vulnerable state enabled the true depth of this elective cruelly to score a bullseye. Both consciously and unconsciously, I began to marry my thought processes and emotions tagged to this cruelty and this poem began to assemble itself, giving birth a few days later. When I got home I typed up draft number one and began editing. Below:  "Love" by Alexander Milov. FUSUTUSCRL

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail.   The inspiration for this poem infused itself into my marrow while I was lying in my hospital bed recovering from surgery for cancer. (Right) The awareness that I had three brothers and three sisters who were not going to contact me, or even enquire about my health had finally driven the awareness of my family status to a new reality.

What month and year did you start writing this poem?   Three days after my surgery in June 2016

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)   I tend to write in my head before I type. Fortunately, I can run a poem in my head for months or even years until the moment it goes into labour and delivers itself. The finished poem is not related in any way to the initial draft, primarily because I decided to use a metaphor coupled with the enormous amount of editing. My emotions played a major part in the assembly of it. (Left:  Barry at age 19. Copyright permission granted by Gene Barry for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us?    There were numerous lines in this poem that I edited in my head, this stanza was edited into the one below it.

My narrow-minded mother
Cupped in by obedient children
Viewed ugly as interesting
The only silence emotional cruelty
Wounds the visions she applauds

Our narrow grass-centred road
Dressed in mountain ranges
Has become ugly and uninteresting
Mute birds and silent hedgerows
There is a wound in every vision

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?   That it is a poem of healing and survival. We don’t have to change, we have to remove the changes and return to ourselves. That a hug enhances safety and wellbeing and never to concentrate on giving a hug. The emotional awareness should be focussed on the gift you are receiving and what it can do for you.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional for you to write and why?   The second stanza. Although I have an abundance of compassion for my mother and indeed my siblings, I have no awareness of what happened to my mother when she was a child that saw her reject happiness and encase herself in bitterness. This blind spot disabled me from assising her in disposing of her enormous pain.

Has this poem been published before? And if so where?   Aftermath has not been published.  It will be in my fourth collection Flaking the Rope which will be published in the US in January 2019.

Anything you would like to add?   ‘What you are aware of, you are in control of. What you are unaware of controls you.’


I sit stand lie walk
Bend carefully and slowly
The breast I need to suck
Within reach and yet too far

I starve for explanations as
My tears pull childhood wounds
Deliver those unappreciated images
That cycle past on three wheelers
The cyclist's tongues saluting

Our narrow grass-centred road
Dressed in mountain ranges
Has become ugly and uninteresting
Mute birds and silent hedgerows
There is a wound in every vision

Logic is a popular school teacher
The perfect stocked exchange
Correct and right without answers
Reason is unpopular and unedited

And yet...a hug is a thesaurus 
That blankets every wound

Gene Barry is an Irish Poet, Art Therapist, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist. He has published widely both at home and internationally and his poems have been translated into Arabic, Irish, Hindi, Albanian, and Italian. (Left:  Barry in Malta on December 28, 2018.  Copyright permission granted by Gene Barry for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Barry is a founder of the Blackwater Poetry group and administers the world-famous Blackwater Poetry Group on Facebook.  He is a publisher and editor with the publishing house Rebel Poetry.  Barry is also founder and chairman of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival. 

As an art therapist using the medium of poetry, Barry has worked in libraries, hospitals, primary and secondary schools, with Narcotics anonymous, Youthreach, retired people's groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, asylum seekers, and with numerous poetry groups.

Barry has read in Australia, Holland, Kosovo, England, St. Lucia, Scotland, France, Belgium, and Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.  He has been the guest poet at numerous Irish poetry venues.  In 2015 he was chosen to represent Ireland at the inaugural Rahovec International Poetry Festival in Kosovo.  (Right:  Barry doing a poetry reading in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  Copyright permission granted by Gene Barry for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

Barry's chapbook Stones in their Shoes was published in 2008.  In 2010 Barry was editor of the anthology Silent Voices, a collection of poems written by asylum seekers living in Ireland.  He additionally edited the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of The Blue Max Review and Inclusion as part of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival.  (Left:  Barry as a child on the far right jacket cover.)

In 2013 his collection Unfinished Business was published by Doghouse Books, a collection that has been critically acclaimed.  In 2014 he edited Irish poet Michael Corrigan's debut Deep Fried Unicorn, and the anthology fathers and what must be said.  In 2015 Barry edited The Day the Mirror Called and MH Clay's book son of fred. 

His third collection Working Days was published by Authors Press in 2016 and his fourth collection, Flaking the Rope will be published in the United States in January of 2019.

Barry has had a number of short stories published and is presently editing his first novel.


001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake CafĂ©”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

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