eight questions with justin.barrett

justin.barrett (co-founder of the famed Melville-Sun Poetry Collaborative) has been almost everywhere in the small press and beyond.  his poetic style, his voice, is often imitated, but such attempts do not ring true.

a tremendously talented poet, justin is a fairly inconsistant blogger.  but who cares?  don’t we have enough consistantly dull bloggers in this interweb world?

justin’s poetry appeared in the first five issues of nibble.  somehow he whiffed on the sixth, though he did manage to sneak two poems into issue four.

and now, here are eight questions with justin.barrett:

What is your role in the small press?

i am an extra in a short scene very near the end of the play. you can see me walking around aimlessly in the distance, but you’ll probably have to squint or get a pair of binoculars.

What is one thing people should know about you?

that i have acrophobia.

What are you working on right now that has you excited?

a time machine.

Name one thing you wish you had.

more patience for fools.

Name one thing you have that you could do without.

my job (see above).

Who is your favorite small press poet?

toughest question of the bunch. right now, it’s Hosho McCreesh.

Name one small press poetry mag, other than nibble, that everyone should read?

Nerve Cowboy.

Where do you want to see your own poetry?

etched into the red dirt of Mars, and large enough that it would be viewable from Earth with only binoculars. aside from that, i’d say sticking out of the back pocket of a person i don’t know as i ride a bus or while in line somewhere.

here are justin’s poems as they appeared in nibble:


her heat
on my back
like a cooling
mass of magma
as i tuck the covers
under my chin
and fall



There’s so much that still needs to be said
about those last few years in Kansas.  

I remember, near the end, wondering
which one of us was moving away
and which one standing still – like watching
adjacent trains in a railyard – (or was one
pushing the other?) until one day we found
ourselves hundreds of miles apart. 

Still, we must reverse-calculate
the mathematics from here to there
to figure out where and when
the departure occurred, why,
and at what velocity: 

If a man leaves Wichita one night
in 1982, driving west at a constant
velocity, who is to blame, nearly
30 years later, for his departure?


outside our front window

on the sidewalks
young girls
with antelope eyes
play hopscotch
and double-dutch
jump rope

while boys
in colored ball caps
play stickball
in the street with
an old mop handle

keeping an eye out
for cars


young girls 
with antelope eyes.


interstate accident

two helicopters, rotors whirring,
next to the wreckage
of three cars; ready
to airlift any survivors.

traffic east diverted
as EMTs work feverishly
to extract a young
girl from the smoldering

heading west, we pass slowly
and silently;

not out of deference to the
horror of it all, but because
we understand the
probabilities and feel
lucky to have eluded death

one more time.


the machinery of night

the moon is hard – a
slab of cold steel riveted
to the midnight sky.

nearly invisible
clouds torch-cut from
wire mesh suspend
from the astral sphere.

countless stars – billions,
perhaps – punctuate
the blackness; pinholes
in a black scarf
draped over a
fluorescent bulb.

you and i, quarry
stones hewn into prostrate
human shapes,
pose motionless
beneath the machinery
of night


to the west

the clouds unravel
at the edges,

the sun winces
as it slips
between mountains
and sky,

and the air is
as we
into blackness

one more time.

check back every friday for a new eight and click the “eight” page to see the eight archive!


~ by nibblepoems on May 22, 2009.

8 Responses to “eight questions with justin.barrett”

  1. thank you, jeff. i like these little interviews. mine is both the best and the worst of the lot. crazy…

  2. the lamp is in the alcove.

    i will meet you in Paris.


    don’t forget to charge the invisible red croissant.

    and bring flints.

  3. Attention:

    Whoever put justin.barrett’s time machine on top of the fridge please put it on the coffee table where it will be lower to the ground.

    This will hasten the completetion of the project, and will help me get back to the present day. Thank you.

    By the way. I have winning lottery numbers for the next four years.

    – –
    Father Luke

  4. i enjoyed the poetry & interview.

    thanks justin and jeff.

  5. flints: check
    red croissant: check
    invisbility cloak: working on it
    time machine: nearing completion.

    how’s 2025? i bet it’s awesome. am i still an insufferable douchebag or have a i learned any lessons? is father luke still ridiculously hairy?

    thanks Jason for the kind words….these interviews are great. it was wonderful getting to know all you guys.

  6. Father Luke is indeed hairy, excluding the mange on top of his
    head/ And then, too, those sparse tufts which remain are turning grey.

    However there are patches on his knees, and belly which
    stubbornly remain black as ink.

    See everyone in 20025.
    London wasn’t it?

    Or Brisbane?

    I’m always so lost.

    – –
    Father Luke

  7. sorry Father. it was Paris. the answer is always Paris. always has been and always will be.
    don’t tell the New Yorkers that, though.

    oh, and how was London, you hairy wombat!

  8. I’m working on a memoir: It should have been Paris – 20025 but
    instead it was Larry’s The Barber Shop years. . .

    The title is a bit long, but I’ll be trimming
    it on my return trip home. If my calibrations are correct, I’ll
    be there before 2011.

    I would like some home made granola if you have any available.

    – –
    Father Luke

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