Walter Bargen

Walter Bargen Poems

Machine guns inhabit the rooftops
like hungry crows.
Bullets peck the library

From Remedies for Vertigo
I have climbed the backs of gods too. It's not so
strange, dressed in heavy coat and boots, hat
pulled down to the eyebrows, cheeks windburnt,

In a house buttressed by books and slanted morning light
slicing across the grain of the kitchen table, Lieutenant Colonel
George Armstrong Custer's 1876 orders to pursue the Sioux,

Walter Bargen Biography

Born to an American father and a German mother, Bargen's childhood was spent traveling back and forth between Germany and the United States. In the early 1950s, he lived and played in the ruins of Mannheim-Heidelberg. In the 1960s, he settled in Missouri, working as a construction foreman, writing poetry on the side as a way of exploring the confusion caused by World War II. He wrote his first poem in high school, and has since been published in approximately one hundred magazines. His first book was published in 1980, Fields of Thenar. In the 1990s, he wrote several works about Missouri, such as one volume which focused on the Missouri River.)

The Best Poem Of Walter Bargen


Machine guns inhabit the rooftops
like hungry crows.
Bullets peck the library
city hall the cobble streets
Allah's forehead.

To the east
the mountains belch dust
as artillery fires into the city
planting the bloom of brown orchids
on the beach apartments
on the Hilton
in courtyards filled
with the shattered rosary of bricks.

People are opening their bodies
for the world to read
the print still wet and so red
it pours out a stoplight
on Broadway and Ninth
in downtown Columbia, Missouri.

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