John Wall Barger

Hypochondria Song

Only humans enjoy the horror
of metaphors coming to life.
The lioness doesn’t worry about
the Halicephalobus worms
inside the zebra she’s eating
unless she smells trouble.
We have graduated from smell
so far into the visions:
every pebble is an avalanche!
Thought itself bears a seed
of masochism. Suspicions calve
like cells. Hatred got a silver
tongue. Why slog the Northwest
Passage of logic when voila
a spangled Versailles of anxiety
springs up in my backyard?
Clearly this freckle is an envoy
from the other side. Hacker,
radical, terrorist. I, Aztec priest,
run to that part of the mind
where blood sacrifice is performed.
Kicking in door after door
like a prophet or a Nazi doctor
till I come across a hapless wart.
“Hello!” I say. “I don’t know you,
but I know your kind.”

John Wall Barger’s poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Rattle, The Cortland Review, and The Montreal Prize’s Global Poetry Anthology, and are forthcoming in Subtropics, Lake Effect, and others. His third collection, The Book of Festus, is coming out with Palimpsest Press in the spring of 2015.