John Barner

J.R. Barner is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Athens, Georgia. They are the author of the chapbooks Burnt Out Stars and Thirteen Poems and their first collection, Little Eulogies. They were educated at the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia. Their work has appeared in online and journals Flow, Anobium, and Release. New work is available periodically at

Saying Goodbye

(early in the morning on the Rue des Mauvais Garçons)

They found Walter Benjamin under the sewer,
Eyes wide like he’d just had a vision or a scare,
Yes, I’m saving for my return flight, 
And I just need a few dollars more.
And then I swear I am leaving 
I’m walking right out that door.
I’ll meet you later at the café, 
I probably just needed some fresh air.
Visions of Busytown and Snakes and Ladders,
Breathing in chalk dust and making a mess 
Of the finger-paints and 
Ripping the knees of my jeans at recess.
That’s where I still want to be. 
I’m sorry I’m late – Can you ever forgive me?
No, no, don’t leave like this.
Come with me, we’ll split a taxi.
This is the hardest thing I think I’ll ever do,
Because I know, I’ll somehow lose track of you.
But I’ll think of getting lost that time with M__________,
And leaving you in the foyer of the museum 
And I’ll smile - I know you’re late, go on, get going.
Me, I think I’ll be in Paris for a while, 
There’s somebody I have to meet.

Letting You Win

The voice
On the phone 
Was conciliatory
In tone,
And it took me 
A full minute
To realize
It was mine. 

Heat Lightning

That stuttered stream scars the sky,
Only momentarily. 
Bathing the dark in its unearthly glow, 
Somewhere between pink and purple, 
Or some other 
Lovecraftian color out of space 
Descending upon the city below

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