from the editors

current issue

past issues



Follow UCityReview on Twitter



Julie Brooks Barbour





Come at me now, girls. Try to touch me. Ask me to strip down to my underwear and slip under a sheet where you will grope me. I’ll still say no, but this time I won’t give in or care that I look different, or that my parents make less than the other parents of girls in the room. When the leader calls orders, I won’t budge. This time, I’ll throw punches instead of running out of the room. And if I run, my legs will take me all the way home, past satellite dishes and swimming pools, stretches of forest, driveways lined with hedges. Horses will watch and neigh from fences, but I’ll be long gone. I’ll give you girls what you never expected (not the mouse, not the lackey, not the girl who locked herself in the bathroom): the girl who used the strength of her body to leave completely.

Return to list of poems


The body is given a female name that ends with a vowel so the name will always please the ear.

The body does not like the sound of the name.

When the body shouts, a voice reprimands, and a hand strikes and sends away.  The body learns punishment and the rules of behavior

                         which is different for the next body born from the mother,
                         a boy.

                         That body’s name ends in a consonant which falls hard on the ear, but the ear adjusts. That                          body is allowed to shout and strike and wear dirt like a garment.

The girl-born will sit in a room and wash the mouth for words uttered, for the loud shout, for the trail of dirt.

                         No one says girls will be girls.
                         There is no such platitude.


Return to list of poems


The body wants to open. Wants the trees and sky to pour in.

Not the people. Not their desires. The body has had enough of human desire.

The trees desire air and water. The trees want to give shade, their branches a haven.

The sky desires a place to cover. Wants to spread itself over. Wants to give water. Wants to give light. Wants to be multi-colored.

The body walks under the vast sky. Its end is never.

The world is full of people and things, and not enough trees and sky. The world is too full.

The body wants to breathe. To open. To be full like the sky and the trees.

Return to list of poems


Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of Haunted City (Aldrich Press, forthcoming 2016) and Small Chimes (Aldrich Press, 2014), as well as three chapbooks, most recently Beautifully Whole (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015). She is co-editor of Border Crossing and Poetry Editor at Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. A recipient of an Artist Enrichment Grant from Kentucky Foundation for Women and a residency at Sundress Academy for the Arts, she teaches writing at Lake Superior State University.


Return to list of poems

copyright 2010-2016 ucity review