Tom Barlow – 3 poems

The Beat

WBZ reached out with the beat from Boston
in ’64 and struck my libido like a tuning fork.
I hid the transistor radio under my pillow
and wondered what the lucky kids back east

had done to deserve the beat while nothing
moved in my part of America for days on end
except copies of the Bible and corn weevils.
We had no beat unless WBZ bounced off a

chance cloud, leaving me to imagine kids in Boston
necking to the music from subversive bands
while we in the heartland were trapped in
the amber of crooning Elvis. On those dreadful

nights when the reception failed, my fingers
frantically coaxed the radio dial. All I wanted
was to swing and thrust and howl to the songs
I knew were out there exploding the night like

a train wreck and the shackles on me rattled
as I danced to the static all by myself
there in the Ohio dark.


Gardening Lessons

The wheelbarrow tire is still flat, a
long-standing excuse I lean upon, for
I was not born with dirt under my nails.

I am therefore not inclined to bury pinches
of carrot seeds just to spend hours on
my knees trying to distinguish between

weed and vegetable. Still, when fending off
the chaos of a morning, I envy those who find
peace in the garden. My father claimed

this blessing, planting and tending his crops,
with our reluctant help, after a long day
making steel. I know he was aware of the

farmer’s markets groaning under the
burden of fresh produce only a few miles
from Monica Avenue. I do not doubt his

passion for gardening was true, but I have
long suspected there was also a lesson
for us in our labors, passed down one

generation to the next in case the end of
the world should fall on our days and we
would starve if we didn’t know how to

hill potatoes in the blistering summer sun.
If this was the case, the lesson didn’t take
and I will surely starve.


The Stoic

Grandpa Lester was stoic as Mount Rushmore /
only after his death when I was ten did I learn
that as a teen he ran away from the family and
joined the circus / this would have been back

on the Ohio farm around 1916 / plows / outhouses /
handsewns / prayer meetings on Wednesday /
dumb nights and coal smoke / buggy wheel tracks
in frozen mud / I never asked him about his youth

for I assumed he had been born seventy years old
and all those signs of a lifetime’s labor back on the
farm / a hundred acres and a milking herd / had been
done by elves / and now I long to know how a

taciturn farmer transformed himself into a circus boy /
did he bathe elephants / hawk circus peanuts /
was his ponderous nose covered in face paint / did he
hang with the human cannonball and the trapeze lady /

so rude of him to take such stories to the grave / although
I share some of the fault / I’ve never been curious enough
about anyone but myself / and I’ve lacked the courage
to run away from any expectations / so as I age my face

too is showing less and less emotion / for fear, I suppose,
that people will understand just how Grandpa shames me now.


Tom Barlow is an Ohio author of poetry, short stories and novels. His work has appeared in  journals including  PlainSongs, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Aji,  The New York Quarterly, The Remington Review, Aurora Review, and many more. See more at

Tom Barlow



Book Shout: Poetry collection by Bindweed contributor by Carol Deering

Congratulations to Bindweed contributor, Carol Deering, on the publication of her poetry collection, Havoc & Solace: Poems from the Inland West, by Sastrugi Press.

Carol has contributed poetry to Bindweed and was published in Issue 1 in 2016.

We wish you all the best with your book, Carol!


Off on our holidays

Just to let you know that we will be taking a holiday in the real world (and a digital vacation too from Bindweed) from 12th until 21st February. Check back in on the week of 22nd February for more poetry, fiction and book shouts in Issue 12.

Also, keep those submissions coming for our upcoming Ebook anthology, Midsummer Madness. We’ve had a great response, but there are still a few spaces left if you want to submit your poetry, fiction or anything in between.

See you soon!

Leilanie and Joseph


John Grey – 2 poems



Pain never goes away.

It settles down

on the darkest places

where it can fester

and get uglier.


In a year’s time,

it wriggles back

into the flesh and bones,

refreshed, empowered.


Your lungs have

barely recovered

and now, once again,

soft sleep currents

must give way to harsh

rapids of waking

at dark hours.


People say,

don’t be discouraged. 

After a while,

they get discouraged

saying it.





As darkness oozes into swamp,

their similarities busy with mosquitoes.

I’ve misjudged the time.

Solid earth is farther than the stars.

With every insect bite,

my arms feel like human sacrifice.


Hands sweated to oar,

I row through reed

and mangrove,

floating islands,

from isolated backwater

toward the distant light.


The sludge below

assures the feel

of suspended animation.

I’m moving

but not enough to shake

the drip of heat,

snakes cozying up to boat,

the grunt of frog and alligator.


Home is my destination.

These waters define home differently.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Penumbra, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review.


Book Shout: After the Lynching by Don Narkevic

Congratulations to Bindweed contributor, Don Narkevic, on the publication of his poetry collection, After the Lynching, by Main Street Rag.

Don has contributed poetry to Bindweed and has been published in Issue 11.

We wish you all the best with your latest book, Don!