Two Poems by Tom Barlow

Twelve Examples of Liberosis
“Liberosis-The desire to care less about things.”
from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig

1. Our cat refuses to sit on my lap. Wanders just outside my reach. Gnaws on my Air Jordans. Hearts should never break this way.

2. As a child, while others prayed for the rapture I prayed for the ability to turn invisible. We were all quite disappointed.

3. I excel at raising weeds. They require so little competence compared to those prissy vegetable seeds.

4. Any day now, I expect to find discount coupons from morticians in my sack of donuts.

5. At six, I learned to never trust anyone enough to play on the seesaw with them.

6. I grew so angry when I saw knees on throats on NBC that I quit watching the news. As far as I know, this doesn’t happen anymore.

7. When I oversleep I often wonder what I’ve missed, while I often wish I’d slept through that which I did not miss.

8. I bury my beef in a bun to muffle the sound of the feed lots.

9. That bastard in the panel truck just cut me off. Luckily, I predicted this would happen by reading his bumper sticker as he passed.

10. We are two, but five refugee families could live in a house our size. We recently built an addition for the extra elbow room.

11. Those characters in books don’t deserve my affection when I don’t even love the Rohingya.

12. I don’t have enough money. You don’t have enough money. Nobody has enough money. Lay me to rest in an Amazon box.

“Ringlorn- the wish that the modern world felt
as epic as the one depicted in old stories and folktales…”
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig

I am ringlorn since the day I picked up Tolkien,
since the day I thought I spotted a glass slipper
in the trash, since the time I read about the boy who
trades his Harley for a handful of magic beans.

I confess my kiss has woken no princess, though
I have rescued a young maiden from her parent’s house
in Dayton, Ohio, and we have lived quite happily
ever after. No wolf has threatened to blow down

our house, but there was a derecho that sent our
porch umbrella soaring like Dorothy and her little dog.
We haven’t caught sight of any dragons either, so the kids
believe they are nothing but television hokum: ditto for ghosts.

Lastly, I have yet to stumble upon a damn sword in a
damn rock, though, if there had been one, I’m sure Disney
would have extracted it with a crane already and built a
theme park around it. Yes, I am ringlorn right down

to my worthless fingertips, from which no magic
has ever emanated, despite my prayers. All they do
of an afternoon is feed the cats, brew coffee and
turn more lying pages.

About the Poet
Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer of poetry, short stories and novels.  My work has appeared in journals including PlainSongs, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Aji, The New York Quarterly, The Remington Review, Aurora Review, and many more. See more at