Caleb Barber

Beast in Me


When I said I would take you swimming,
I meant we would drive out
to the reservation and I’d say
it was too cold to take our clothes off.

When I said I would take you camping,
I meant I would wait until you went
away to Spain, then go to the hills by myself.

When I said “Yes, I will definitely be
at that show,” I meant I would
show up late, with a can of Rainier
in each of my pants pockets,
then leave once they were empty.

When I said we should maybe just
keep this friendly, I meant
I wouldn’t be calling you again.

And when you reported all this
to my best friend, he agreed with you
I was unkind, and listened
while you complained
two hours on the bar bench.

Honey, I was only a few blocks away,
putting the moves on someone new.


“Beast in Me” is reprinted from Beasts and Violins (Red Hen Press, 2010)

Caleb Barber earned a BA from Western Washington University in English/Creative Writing, and received an MFA in poetry from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, based off of Whidbey Island.  He currently lives in Bellingham, WA, where he works at an aerospace machine shop. His poems have been most recently published in Rattle, Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, Makeout Creek, and New Orleans Review, as well as a feature in Poet Lore. His first book, Beasts and Violins, is available from Red Hen Press. The title poem appeared in Best American Poetry 2009.