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B A R B A R A  T O M A S H

6 poems

From Of Residue


Of Wildlife

scientists collect nets etherize the

bats   extract   blood  from   wings

the  good  they  do  for  us  in  the

wild   in   rare   cases   spills   over

between   species   our   mother’s

interaction with  the host  discrete

passages  abundant  evidence  to

kill  pathogens   boil  camel’s  milk

before  drinking it we veer  across

the street  no longer place an arm

around  our child but  the real risk

the    emergent    risk     can    you

remember   how  to  kiss   or  how

with fingers to spell nothing

Of Nocturnals

the virus is just  really too good at

what it’s doing  no human using a

computer  could  do this the palm

civet’s   mask   is   white   its   feet

black  I  wish to say  hello  to  you

clearly   a   natural    process   my

droplets    my   mist    must   have

occurred  samples   of  bat  blood

urine  saliva  and  feces  we  have

been   teaching   people  to   plug

holes  in   their  roofs  to   prevent

encroaching   when  we   eat   we

swallow     large      amounts     of

livestock    solitude     re-infecting

ourselves   the  risk   is   clearly  a

natural process that has occurred

the pangolin is  the only  mammal

with scales

Of Hypotheses

if  residents  must   enter  through

the   roofs   if  under   the  floor   a

honeycomb    maze     in      which

disarticulated   skeletons    if    the

bedroom door  clicks  shut and  a

cat pounces  a bird or  a mouse if

an adult  a child  two infants have

attempted          to         overcome

marginality    and      edge     then

language     begins      its      eerie

vibrations in branches and leaves

and we dry out  the trees so they

will burn quickly

Of Fallacy

if the burial  hints  at an emotional

bond   between    two   people   if

nearly   everything     that   comes

afterwards      including      writing

cities       population     explosions

pandemics      social      inequality

traffic    jams     murals     in     red

pigment   and  ochre  of   vultures

swooping down on headless men

is in fact  a symbol  and  has to be

deciphered then  we will decipher

it if  a set  of implements is  found

with  a  small scalpel to  remove a

ring of  bark then  we will  remove

it  our  squash  plants  will  spread

along  the   ground   blocking  the

sunlight  and  the  children  in  the

back  seat   are   jumping  up  and


Of Sheltering

first      to     whittle     down     the

maddening    myth  of    sufficient

insufficient    knowledge   first   to

stitch  up  the seams  of  the  four

cardinal     predations    carnivory

herbivory    whether    or   not    it

results     in     death     parasitism

mutualism    first    to    burn    out

trees  clustered   in  ghostly  rows

in  order  to  disappear  compress

unravel   extract   and   restrict   a

species    with     roots     in     the

moment  someone  first  decided

to shelter with someone else

Of Ceremony

first  to  twirl  and  flex  but  not to

extend    a    leg   out    from    the

body’s   midline    to    subsist   as

you   while   I   subsist   as   I   one

foot   chasing   the   other   in  the

atomized     air     of    our     close

proximity       first       to       betray

someone   at    times    even   our

erstwhile          parasites           by

capturing    them  in  a   too-small

jar   first   to   retreat   leap   away

from  the  location  of  plants and

animals    endangered    but   still


Barbara Tomash, From "Of Residue": CV

Barbar Tomash

Barbara Tomash is the author of four books of poetry: PRE- (Black Radish Books 2018), Arboreal (Apogee 2014), The Secret of White (Spuyten Duyvil 2009), and Flying in Water, winner of the 2005 Winnow First Poetry Award. An earlier version of PRE- was a finalist for the Colorado Prize and the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Before her creative interests turned her toward writing she worked extensively as a multimedia artist. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Web Conjunctions, New American Writing, Verse, VOLT, OmniVerse, and numerous other journals. She lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University.

Barbara Tomash, From "Of Residue": Text
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