Carmen Barefield’s “I dream of a house I’ll never have” & Alex Baskin’s “In Search of Ordinary Things”

I dream of a house I’ll never have
Carmen Barefield
maybe a little bungalow with a big backyard
and a fig tree’s shadow painting the grass
its heavy limbs bowing from all its fruit
and on move in day, I’ll leave the unpacking
to curl up beneath it
just because I can
the house will have a fence
made of overgrown blueberry bushes
hiding me from peeping toms or nosey neighbors
but no one complains because they can’t resist
the fruit always tartly, always sweet
and there is more than enough fruit for me
no one will see me walk out before dawn
to water the garden
no one will see me strip off my clothes
as leaves cascade to cover my brown skin
and I’ll dance it all off with a laugh
I dream of a home that prospers
as every part of my land grows so ripe
sugar bubbles in the afternoon sun
I’ll let it all grow until the vines find
cracks in the sidewalk
maybe loop up the city trees
and the world will smell of strawberries
bumble bees dance by
and one even brushes a kiss against my cheek
before bouncing back to the group
covered in nectar, fuzz from the flowers
and soon their hard work will grace us with honey
so thick, so sweet my lips pucker
And when the world begins to wilt
and the weather turns bitter
I’ll sow my seeds for the future heat
and watch over them from the window
of my little bungalow
I’ll wait—
and I’ll keep waiting
for a garden I may never see.

* Mass Poetry Writing Prompt: Write a poem envisioning the future. What do you hope will happen but seems out of reach in the present? Consider your senses as you draft the poem. What does the future you dream of taste, smell, and sound like?

In Search of Ordinary Things,
Alex Baskin

after Bill Callahan’s “Jim Cain”

Purple plants—alive—stretch, bend, crane their necks
            they yearn for sunlight—who doesn’t?

Stacking rocks, however many
            also finding stacked rocks—someone was here

Lovers—new to each other—share a crisp apple
            like it’s a cigarette—their last

The infinite moment right before a kiss
            breath tickles & cheeks brush

Charcoal gorgeously crackling—so hot
            like an orange symphony of shattering glass

The softening of bodies—real bodies
            across generations & millennia

There is gritty golden art all over
            this weird old visionary America

Swing a dead branch against an oak trunk
            like a baseball bat—crack—it’s deeply cathartic

The post office—postal workers—even now
            little scribbles & dark chocolate shipped off to Oregon

A neighbor practices a string instrument
            pause for what is holy

Bear witness—here are the tiny noodle fingers
            of children carefully folding origami

Birds and snow tender in the city
            reminders that this is a planet

Wind, waves, shadows, echoes—here, now
            water, words, loose dirt, endings

Bill, who drifts between the light & the dark
            reminds us we all can

Sit on this bench, there are not many places to meet up anymore
            sit here until it’s too cold to keep sitting

* Poet’s Writing Prompt: Choose a song you like and put it on repeat. Let it play through several times. You could lie down, or dance, or go for a walk. Allow yourself to get bored with your choice, and then find something new in it. Eventually, sit down and write. Keep letting the song repeat. It does not have to be obvious to anyone but you how your writing connects to the music. See where the sounds echoing in your head take you.

Carmen Barefield is a poet and writer living in Salem, Massachusetts. Some of her work can be found in Popshot Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Black Heart, and littledeathlit. You can find out more about her at

Alex Baskin is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School. His poetry has appeared in some small-press literary journals. He is originally from New Jersey.