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Rubus fruticosus, Charley Barnes

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Rubus fruticosus | Monster

The sailor had heard things about the stench;

slick skin, that which made up the monster,

let it rush through the water unseen.

But one spied the other through spit,

sand and grit that marked the windows of the eyes.

Not that the seeing aided the escape.

It only meant the sailor saw before he felt;

cried before he cried out; prayed for a second

longer than he might have, before

the monster snatched the psalm and stung him –

sent him home in blood and ruin.

The man took no fish for his wife.

Rubus fruticosus | Medicine

The flower isn’t white,

although it looks like it used to be.

Mallow pink, purple antenna

that protrudes out from the centre –

the yellow gathering, a sun

that sits surrounded by petal rain.

When the physician breaks it away

from berry and bramble,

he gifts it with a pride

that says this will fix the ache.

Rubus fruticosus | Maiden

I’d heard men did this: passed flowers

and soft words in private, with wives

away from observation.

His wife, my sister, bade him

to visit this doctor,

one held in high esteem.

But I knew to follow – watch

the sting sucked out

by more than medicine.

As I know, now, to say nothing of this:

let the man bring fish home to my sister;

let him lie, and say the flower is for her.


Charley Barnes is a poet, author and academic from the UK. She lectures in Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton. In February 2021, Charley published her first full collection of poetry, Lore: Flowers, Folklore, and Footnotes, with Black Pear Press. She also writes crime fiction as Charlotte Barnes.

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