Poem ‘Perpendicular’

I’ve been baffled by this talk of
perpendicular, amused by the students
drifting by
in lurid hats and long scarves. Some are arm-
in-arm, quite oblivious to me, their
languid strides taunting
my age.
It’s a peculiar English thing, this style
of architecture,
(I know it hurts you to say) but I pretend
not to care, because my
recall of art history class is minimal
at best, a choice
that perhaps I regret now in these
idle moments,
sitting hunched in this cafe on
the square, bleeding its pasts. Maybe I’m jealous of
these boys, their short-skirted girls
with dark tights going on forever. And that bell,
it has a continental ring; I see
other occupants here, the shadows
of angular men in martial grey, mingling
with the smiles and chat of stylish women. But
now I have to watch you eat, your
gannet-eyes sucking coffee, washing
down the sachertorte you wolf. The mere
thought of those cobbles out there just beyond
this warping glassβ€” you know
they are as hard as the freeze
which grips this place, the tissue of
your frozen heart

Β© copyright David F. Barker 2012



  1. claudia · September 29, 2012

    ah..one should never wolf down sachertorte…the tissue of the frozen heart..ugh…unexpected closure but works well..


  2. brian miller · September 29, 2012

    dang…love this you start broad and then laser focus in on the one person…and the allusion to the hard cold cobblestones…great rush of emotion there….and jus thow short wer those skirts? smiles.


  3. charlesmashburn · September 29, 2012

    A very vivid and familiar write, David. Very nice!


  4. kelly · September 29, 2012

    fabulous imagery, poignantly captured. love the closing!


  5. Pete Armetta · September 29, 2012

    Sweet. πŸ™‚ Literally. “the sachertorte you wolf”, awesome line. Love seeing all this through your eyes.


  6. danadampier · September 29, 2012

    Looking on the younger generation, I’m often confused about them myself!


  7. tashtoo · September 29, 2012

    fantastic! mind you, the image I see sitting cross the table is a little more than fairy tale scary…some cutting language and brilliant imagery helps with that πŸ˜‰


  8. Wendell A. Brown · September 29, 2012

    I loved this poem my brother!


  9. Poetry & Icecream · September 29, 2012

    I really enjoyed reading this. It was like watching someone watching someone else. Nicely written πŸ™‚


  10. Laurie Kolp · September 30, 2012

    Love the voice in this… had to laugh at:

    now I have to watch you eat, your
    gannet-eyes sucking coffee, washing
    down the sachertorte you wolf.


  11. abichica · September 30, 2012

    awesome.. i love how simple your poems are posted, no pictures added so that the reader focuses specifically on the poem and has their own vision of the poem.. πŸ™‚


  12. journeyintopoetry · September 30, 2012

    Oh David I so love this! One of my favourites I have to say!!

    I think I am sometimes jealous of students when I watch them in and around the Headingley coffee shops (student “city”!) (Leeds). But it’s only momentary. I would not wish to face their prospects of getting into the real world after they have finished observing the Perpendicular! I wish I had done more art history: just short OU course a few years ago – hence my ramblings now and again re Turner and your art!!

    And the Sachertorte does actually sound delicious, I think it might bring out the gannet in me!! lol πŸ™‚

    Wonderful poetry, love it!! πŸ™‚



  13. lscotthoughts · September 30, 2012

    I feel many emotions flowing through your words and in the picture you paint, David…you never cease to amaze me with your writing talent!


  14. Betty Hayes Albright · October 1, 2012

    David, something about your poetry always draws me in so deeply that it’s no longer just a poem but an experience and a vision – and most times one that I can relate to (in one way or another). I especially like this one!


  15. Three Well Beings · October 1, 2012

    There is so much here! I particularly liked “their languid strides taunting my age.” It sets a nice pace for a delicious conversation. Wolfing down a sachertorte…I could go on and on! Very nice.


  16. dfb · October 1, 2012

    Debra, thank you so much!!!


  17. dfb · October 1, 2012

    Betty – thank you so much! You are very kind.


  18. dfb · October 1, 2012

    Lauren, thank you very much!


  19. dfb · October 1, 2012

    Thank you very much Christine – hope you are well.


  20. Soma Mukherjee · October 1, 2012

    i guess every gen thinks almost same about the new…the opportunities which didnt exist,the air so different, some ‘glad didnt have to live that’ and some sour grapes ( oh but shhh… )
    beaitiful poem David πŸ™‚


  21. Victoria C. Slotto · October 1, 2012

    This evokes a feeling of loss and sadness for me…both of youth and passion.


  22. Jamie Dedes · October 2, 2012

    Vivid and a rather unexpected end. Read three time. Enjoyed much. Thanks, David. You never disappoint.


  23. Thomas Davis · November 11, 2012

    Ahh, how aging affects us. As the Provost of a college overflowing with the exuberant tragedy of youth, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this poem. Would I go back and experience the anguish and glory of the students I am responsible for providing education for? I am not sure, but, outside of studying art history,
    I regret now in these
    idle moments,
    sitting hunched in this cafe on
    the square, bleeding its pasts. . .
    But, of course, the coldness of rejection is no longer my lot….
    I love when I get time to visit here and go through your poetry.


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