Poem ‘Red Dress’

Red Dress

The tutor twice your age sat on your knee;
you were always lucky that way.
First night pub opening, top of the hill.
It was the normal pretentious affair,
the legal name with church overtones,
the perfect occasion for too much to drink.

That night I crashed at your mum’s place
and she wasn’t happy, I could tell –
the slamming pots, glances that could kill.
She’d got me down as a junkie
because I travelled light
but the spare room was handy,

set aside for special occasions. Never used.
We listened to some Steely Dan
and then began to jam.
That’s where Red Dress was born.
In between gigs we hired the room
with egg boxes on the walls,

to fashion our fledgling art; firing bass players,
hiring Marilyn sound-a-likes
(who frankly were better at screwing)
and making a right hash of everything,
course included. But band badges were made,
along with silly visits to photo booths.

‘These dirty streets…’ the first line of the lyric
fell into place with that progression in E.
Dreams of Idaho and California. Some sun.
You made it happen and it’s dedicated to you.
And when I heard the news, I knew it was true:
the happy-go-lucky guy on the end of the rope

was you.

© copyright df barker 2012

First published in 2011 in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available for purchase here:  http://liten.be//gHmf9

* image created digitally © copyright dfbarker 2012



  1. claudia · January 15, 2012

    ha nice…enjoyed this a lot…love me some old, wild band days..maybe the music could’ve been better but the enthusiasm was just out of this world..smiles…


  2. Eve Redwater · January 15, 2012

    Wonderful. A proper journey from start to finish. I so admire you!


  3. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Thank you Claudia!


  4. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Eve – you are very kind, thank you!


  5. walterwsmith3rd · January 15, 2012

    Enjoyed reading this one. It brings back memories of nights with girls and clubs. Seeing bands like L7 in NYC or Ultravox and Kraftwork at Emerald Ciy in NJ. Lots of moments.


  6. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Glad you enjoyed it and I’m very grateful to you for reading and commenting on it!


  7. totsymae1011 · January 15, 2012

    “That night I crashed at your mum’s place
    and she wasn’t happy, I could tell –
    the slamming pots, glances that could kill.”

    Always a good indicator. 🙂


  8. Julie Catherine · January 15, 2012

    Excellent poem – the ending lines were a real twist that made my heart drop. Very well written; I’m following and looking forward to reading more of your work. ~ Julie


  9. magsx2 · January 15, 2012

    Love the painting, that is stunning, Wild but free.
    Great poem,


  10. lscotthoughts · January 15, 2012

    David, This is another great story, wild and carefree, with a perfect image to accompany~


  11. abichica · January 15, 2012

    wonderful, brilliant write, a journey worth reading about..thanks for sharing.. 🙂


  12. reading-stars · January 15, 2012

    Oh yes .. egg boxes! 🙂 This is a lovely dedication to a happy-go-lucky-guy – memories fit for smiles to hold on to.


  13. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Thank you once again – I really appreciate your comments!


  14. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Thank you very much!


  15. df barker · January 15, 2012

    Thank you! I’m grateful for your comments.


  16. Betty Hayes Albright · January 15, 2012

    Rich with description, memory, (Steely Dan, jamming!) – felt like I was watching a little vignette in a captivating documentary. Great poem, David!


  17. rangewriter · January 16, 2012

    Oh yes! I, too, love the painting. Quite dashing and splashing. “Idaho” no less! Who knew? Great action, philosophy, and emotion all wrapped up in so few words. Genius.


  18. dantrewear · January 16, 2012

    this beautifully but sadly combines happy reminiscence with tragedy. A very nice read, thanks.
    best, –Dan


  19. The Emu · January 16, 2012

    Great words well written , dont know if I read the last line correctly , if I did it sounds like the ending of a friend I knew in a band back in the late 70s
    Ian aka Emu


  20. Emma · January 16, 2012

    Wow, David, I like this one, it’s got a different feeling then some of your other poetry. That ending made my stomach sink…I never saw that coming. I’m interested in Idaho as a point of reference…though I understand California. Great progression, very nice!


  21. df barker · January 16, 2012

    Thank you so much Emma! I put Idaho in because the it is a reference to a song lyric I wrote many years ago with the subject of this poem. We were at college in a rather grimy, cold, depressing English city and it was winter! The song’s chorus really was partly a progression in E and we thought we’d like something upbeat. I’ve never been to the states but you must understand that names like California and Idaho bring such visions of hope and warmth to many of us over here – especially me then, a depressed teenager! I am very grateful for your interest!


  22. bardessdmdenton · January 16, 2012

    Excellent image and fun read!


  23. Caddo Veil · January 16, 2012

    Interesting vicarious trip to a world I wasn’t part of–you’re an excellent storyteller in verse.


  24. Marcie Hill · January 17, 2012

    Your images always bring your words to life for me. The words and flow, as well as your spirit, are amazing.


  25. df barker · January 17, 2012

    Thank you for your kind words!


  26. df barker · January 17, 2012

    Marcie, you are so kind. Thank you!


  27. granbee · January 17, 2012

    Very bold and different sort of painting here today, D.F. I REALLY went back to the 60s (and late 50s) as I read through this post. My little brother once fooled around with a garage band in high school. Luckily, we had a large, electrified tractor shed! Great, great writing here. One of my favorites.


  28. df barker · January 18, 2012

    Thank you! You are very kind and I am grateful.


  29. Thomas Davis · January 19, 2012

    This twisted me around at the end and sent me careening down a different path than the one you started me out on. I too can remember days when I was young and music was the only sound that was really in me head. But after awhile that got old, and I found that art and poetry and love and marriage and kids and education and life and getting on with what I was about was more important. I can remember being extremely emotional and unstable when I was young, and that seems to be in the poem, along with the clear and present warning, along with the deep irony that the mother thought you were bad news, but her son ended up in a bad way even though the two of you banged through life together for awhile.


  30. df barker · January 19, 2012

    Thomas – many, many thanks for reading and responding to this, I appreciate it.
    Yes, sadly, this one is almost autobiographical.


  31. Ina · January 19, 2012

    Hi David,
    I am trying to catch up, this is another great poem and painting. The song Red Dress, do you have the lyrics still? The painting reminded me of posters of the seventies. Lovely!
    Steely Dan, that was All around my head I think?

    I have been wanting to ask you this for a while: why is there a white plastic garden chair where your face used to be? 🙂



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