The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Walter Bargen

Global Warming on a Friday Night


Adam’s singing from the bottom of a brass bowl hammered from rifle cartridges. He reloads his voice and takes aim. No one is certain of the target. Some say heaven. Some say hell. Some say he’s walking through the swinging doors that lead to 47 miles of barbed wire and not just the mall where all the shoppers spill their bags ducking for cover when his song shoots out of the hall speakers to reach number one on the charts. Centuries of theological disputation tarnish the brass.


When the chairs are thrown on stage the band doesn’t stop playing. The bass and lead guitars welcome the audience’s generous offer with a thank you and sit down to the endless chord progressions that lead them into the next life. Adam stands, his lungs a fully exposed page from Gray’s Anatomy. The bars of his ribs are all that keeps him from exploding on stage.  In the ceiling fan, a heart-shaped helium balloon rips apart its letters of LOVE.


No one mentions the rising water. The music too loud for that kind of warning. Forever blowing bubbles is about to become a theme song. Guitars turn into paddles. The bass drum holds three men in a tub. Rub-a-dub-dub, the sea chantey heard all the way down to the end of the bar. The brass bowl caught by the current snags on a half-submerged tractor tire and sinks.




WALTER BARGEN has published 19 books of poetry. Recent books include: Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (2009), Endearing Ruins/Liebenswerte Ruinen (2012), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (2013), and Gone West/Ganz im Westen (2014). His awards include: the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009).



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