“I am in Bed with You, too” by Emma Barnes for New Zealand National Poetry Day


This August 25th, as part of New Zealand’s National Poetry Day, Victoria University of Wellington’s Wai-te-ata Press hosted Transpositions, an event celebrating New Zealand women poets and their translators. One of the event’s organizers, Francesca Benocci (My “Partner in Rhyme” in my recent Oscar Wilde poem adaptation), asked me to contribute an image illustrating a passage from the work of one of the featured woman poets that could be projected during some of the presentations. I chose a couple of lines from Emma Barnes’s startlingly image-rich poem “I am in Bed with You, too,” which you can read in its entirety here:

I am in Bed with You, too

I am in bed with you. I’m always on the left.
I am left of myself. I am creasing up in time.
Folded in two and three. Paper can be folded
in half seven times. I’ve got the folded creases
of thirty three years worth of nimble fingers in
my skin. I am better than origami. I am better.
I was always trying to reach you. I was calling
by phone, in the old dial style set. I punched
numbers and tapped screens. My finger traversed
the front of the sun. The number is 660-
816. 660-816. I was always calling you to tell
me how to keep myself alive. But none of you
knew. And so I had to invent myself out of a
paper bag without letting anyone know what
I was doing. Walking up the very longest street
in my body alone, knowing it would take forever.
Here’s the final brick to slot into the mud house
I’ve made. It’s the brick that tells you I didn’t
die just yet. It’s the brick that says I slaughtered
myself from the inside out taking each tiny
dead figure that no longer worked then
attaching it to a hook in the sky. Empty as a
golem I woke up next to you. Empty as bed
I walked around until I got here. I have refilled
myself like a pen. I have recalibrated
the frequency at which I vibrate. I have sent
out a search party for myself and they returned
triumphant with the you that’s me on their
shoulders. We hugged together alone in a
room for hours. And then debuted ourselves
as one single person. A single person who
is almost 12000 shells inside a bone cage.

This entry was posted in comic book poetry, new zealand centre for literary translation, Poetry, Poetry Comics, victoria university wellington, watercolour and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “I am in Bed with You, too” by Emma Barnes for New Zealand National Poetry Day

  1. Jools, your image illustrates those lines beautifully and touchingly. Great work, brother! And yes, the poem in its entirety is particularly striking.


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