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Barry Yeoman

The Worm

The Worm

When they say the worm has turned, I know what they mean.
But this worm has been loose since birth, inside my brain.
It has a diamond-hard beak, makes continuous etchings
in the glass of my skull.  Tiny little seahorse tails like curly cues,
etchings of willows, warts and reeds.  Of topography maps,
angiograms, fossils, leaves.  Imprints over imprints like some
cranial disease.  There are grooves by the thousands from
old LP's.  Patterns of bird migrations, autographs of players
I got as a kid from the Big Red Machine.  Roots and snail
shells, inner anatomies of squirrels and rabbits, tiny lizard
skeletons, hives of bees.  The worm tries to eat its way out,
gives off fumes instead.  My head is a propane tank, a rank
sulfuric breeze.  The worm records my history, eats out
everything I've seen, triggers olfactory responses, dots the
skull with planetarium projections, waft of lilac, fried eggs,
takeout Chinese.  Records engravings from encyclopedias,
dictionaries, medical magazines.  It's been etching everything  
but these words.  They reside somewhere vague, stored like
clouds, regurgitated like rain.  Then there are Pollacks, Hoppers,
Picassos and Monets, and Vincent's stars, his golden bouquets.
For all the myriad masterpieces chipped inside the brain,
tiny pieces flake and drift like floaters on the eyes.  There are
countless impressions like hybrids seen through nets and screens;
histories, philosophies, tied like noose knots onto fishing hooks. 
The list goes on, mosquitoes multiplying, ripples on water
crossed with stock market graphs, wood grain patterns making
Rorschach images, tile mosaics, distorted reflections in curved
bumper chrome.  The worm is both insatiable and bulimic,
etches satellite images of earth, patterns of properties the
shade of it's crops, seen from an airplane window seat.  When
the worm sleeps I dream, nasal hallucinations of bonfire smoke.
Flames dancing, rattles and drums, taste of tequila on the tongue,
shot down the throat, the worm digests, digresses as it rests,
tastes the bright white headlight of an oncoming train, strobing
locomotive tinged with sandy saline that pick-pockets the throat,
numbs cacti spines clean.   Finally, the summer night gets so still
the silence screams and the crickets croak. Caught red-handed
the moon stands accused of slitting wind's throat, tries to hide
the blade in the crater of it's sheath.  When the worm wakes as a
new day breaks its the shattered death-mask of a possum bearing
teeth.  It's stench on the asphalt shoulder is a rank mix of weeds
and hot tailpipe exhaust, a single shoe, scattered glass and tire
scalps.  Steel radials exposed like live wires, a nervous system shot.
Like a cupped palm holding old rain water the wasted rubber reeks.   
The worm continues to record microwaves and weather patterns,
military insignia's and logos on heavy equipment.  The worm does 
cringe at loud noises, ignores dropped keys, continues the organic
consumption of excerpts from a human life.  The steady shavings
curling constantly into memory that gets recycled, concocted with
new sounds, textures, aromas, images, scratched glass that never
ends. It goes on always, liberates the macabre, unholy image etched,
an inaudible sneeze.  Surreal, yet recognizable as thoughts of dogs
that have been buried long ago on a big hill at the base of trees.

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Barry Yeoman is a poet fromS pringfield, Ohio, currently living and writing in London, Ohio. He earned his B.A. in Liberal Studies: Literature and Creative Writing from Antioch University Midwest (Yellow Springs, Ohio), summer 2018 at the youthful age of 55. Submitting poetry since 2014 his work has appeared, or is forthcoming in Mission at Tenth, Common Ground Review, Lost Coast Review, Right Hand Pointing, Crack the Spine, Harbinger Asylum, Gravel, and Broad River Review, among other print and online journals. He is working on a first book-length manuscript. He can be reached at

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