poems by Lilly Barnes

96 Pages
April 24, 2014
Poetry All Titles



Journey poems by Lilly Barnes

This book of poetry brings you the journey of a life lived in turbulent times. Its many stories are distilled from personal experience, honed and deepened into the shape and rhythm of poetry. The arc of this life begins with the child who has no fear of bombs — war being the only way of life she has known — but is afraid that she might reveal a dangerous secret. Or get a hole in her stocking. Or maybe get served her own pet bunny in a stew. The journey continues through years of dislocations, when the struggle to keep afloat is all — when the quest is survival of a recognizable self. And sooner or later in anyone’s life there’s a choice which has to be made: to attain and then sink into comfort, or to continue the journey, seeking freedom from the strands trailing out of the dark distant past, binding and confining, seeking what joy there is in life, on the path of becoming an Elder.

Lilly Barnes makes strong use of the elements of effective writing, evoking, sense, sound, and form, to explore the arch of a woman’s journey from childhood to aging. She successfully uses the personal to explore the universal. A reader can contemplate his own life, the life of another, and life as a philosophical construct, from the experiences set down in these poems. Readers are enticed by strong rhythms, well-chosen line breaks and sensual images that evoke meaning. 


Lilly Barnes is the author of A Hero Travels Light, a book of interrelated short stories published in 1986, and of the novel Mara, published in 2010. She is also the author of five books for children. She was a freelance Arts Journalist for the cbc for many years, as well as senior script writer for the children’s television show Mr. Dressup for which she received the 2007 Gemini Award: the Margaret Collier Award for writing, for Outstanding Body of Work. Lilly was married to the late Canadian composer Milton Barnes and has two sons, Micah and Daniel, both musicians. The Literary/Musical event “Jazz for Mara” was based on Lilly’s novel Mara, with original music composed by Daniel and lyrics by Micah, and was performed by all three, accompanied by Daniel’s band. Lilly is now working on a play entitled “Maximum Security.” She lives in downtown Toronto, in an old house full of stories and music.

“In Lilly Barnes' Journey, the poet's mantra becomes a mantra for living - a call to experience and marvel at the world through our senses, to listen attentively to the "dancing tree" and the "talkative bird," to  "[cull]  the countryside for stars" and in so doing, to fulfill our hearts "moaning to expand." Breaking from and weaving in her jarring past, Barnes invites us to leave behind "like outworn skin/ all the fears" we hold as we "huddle in caves" and instead to "ride the blood stream of life," intrigued by the "fragrance of mystery" and open to the joy of what we discover.”
—Carol Lipszyc, author of Singing Me Home and The Saviour Shoes and Other Stories

I Do Know What They Mean

I do know what they mean....
Peel off white knee socks,
white shoes and the ribbons in my hair,
peel off the pinafore dress and matching lace panties,
slip on the bathing suit,
all naked arms and legs,
and out into the summer rain.
Run like a deer,
down the hillside to the very bottom
where the mud is slick and silky warm.
Sit in it,
right in the middle,
with trickles of running rain water
and glistening pebbles,
and shape and pat and squish and wiggle,
and the slurpy tongues of mud between your toes
and nobody saying: Dirty!
Look what you’ve done to your clothes!
It happened only once.
Once in a life time, but it happened.
And so, when people talk about their happy childhood,
I do know what they mean.

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