In this Book

The Black Ocean
summary

In The Black Ocean, poet Brian Barker attempts to make sense of some of the darkest chapters in history while peering forward to what lies ahead as the world totters in the wake of human complacence. Unveiled here are ruminations on human torture, the Chernobyl disaster, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and genocide against Native Americans. The ghosts of Lincoln, Poe, and Billie Holiday manifest from pages laden with grim prophecies and catastrophes both real and imagined. These hauntingly intense documentary poems reflect on the past in an attempt to approach it with more clarity and understanding, while offering blistering insight into the state of the world today. Barker touches upon the power of manipulation and class oppression; the depths of fear and the struggle for social justice; and reveals how failure to act—on the parts of both politicians and everyday citizens—can have the most devastating effects of all.

 

Throughout the volume looms the specter of the black ocean itself, a powerful metaphor for all our collective longings and despair, as we turn to face a menacing and uncertain future.

 

Lullaby for the Last Night on Earth

 

When at last we whisper, so long, so lonesome,

 

and watch our house on the horizon

go down like a gasping zeppelin of bricks,

 

we’ll turn, holding hands,

and walk the train tracks to the sea . . . 

 

So sing me that song where a mountain falls

in love with an octopus, and one thousand fireflies

ricochet around their heads,

 

and I’ll dream we’re dancing in the kitchen one last time,

swaying, the window a waystation

of flaming leaves, the dogs shimmying

about our legs,

                            dragging their golden capes of rain . . .

 

 

O my critter, my thistle, gal-o-my-dreams,

 

lift your voice like an oar into the darkness,

for all the sad birds are falling down—

 

Nothing in this night is ours.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Book Title
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  1. Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Dragging Canoe Vanishes from the Bear Pit into the Endless Clucking of the Gods
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. *
  2. pp. 15-15
  1. Visions for the Last Night on Earth
  2. pp. 16-16
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  1. Poe Climbs Down from the Long Tapestry of Death to Command an Army of Street Urchins Huddled in the Dusk
  2. pp. 17-22
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  1. Lullaby for the Last Night on Earth
  2. pp. 23-23
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  1. The Last Songbird
  2. pp. 24-26
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  1. *
  2. pp. 27-27
  1. Gorbachev’s Ubi Sunt from the Future That Soon Will Pass
  2. pp. 28-33
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  1. Silent Montage with Late Reagan in Black and White
  2. pp. 34-36
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  1. Love Poem for the Last Night on Earth
  2. pp. 37-37
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  1. In the City of Fallen Rebels
  2. pp. 38-40
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  1. *
  2. pp. 41-41
  1. Lost on the Lost Shores of New Orleans, They Dreamed Abraham Lincoln Was the Magician of the Great Divide
  2. pp. 42-46
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  1. Field Recording, Notes from the Machine
  2. pp. 47-48
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  1. Visions for the Last Night on Earth
  2. pp. 49-49
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  1. Field Recording, Billie Holiday from the Far Edge of Heaven
  2. pp. 50-50
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  1. Nightmare for the Last Night on Earth
  2. pp. 51-52
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  1. *
  2. pp. 53-53
  1. A Brief Oral Account of Torture Pulled Down Out of the Wind
  2. pp. 54-64
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 65-66
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  1. Other Books in the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry
  2. pp. 67-68
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  1. Back Cover
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