Rusty Barnes pulls the curtain back on JESUS IN THE GHOST ROOM with an ominous tone. “This is the year of terrible things ...” and yet it's not just the narrator's life that's on edge, he notes that nature itself is off kilter: "the moss doesn't even grow on the right side of the tree any more." From “Annus Horribilis,” this clever MEMENTO in poem finds our guide back at a picnic the night before as “my hands swirl in the air on their way to your pockets.” What exactly happened is open to interpretation, possibly just the rush of new love, but there’s enough mystery to read in a couple different scenarios.
Reminiscence grounds a significant portion of this collection. Mr. Barnes spirits us much farther back in his timeline to the family ties that forever haunt. It is “Summer 1974” and a father looms godlike in a young kid’s life. A sharp, familiar image from the time period is conveyed with the line “cigarette packs rolled into both sleeves,” but it’s the "like epaulets” description that delivers distinctive style. Other highlights include “Listening to Hugo Winterhalter in the Early AM” and “Fire.”
Mr. Barnes touches on many subjects, including his mom, loss of faith, male bonding, first sexual experience, nature, and imagination. An eclectic collection of verse, yes, and very relatable.