Aria

By David Barber David Barber
What if   it were possible to vanquish
All this shame with a wash of   varnish
Instead of wishing the stain would vanish?

What if   you gave it a glossy finish?
What if   there were a way to burnish
All this foolishness, all the anguish?

What if   you gave yourself   leave to ravish
All these ravages with famished relish?
What if   this were your way to flourish?

What if   the self   you love to punish —
Knavish, peevish, wolfish, sheepish —
Were all slicked up in something lavish?

Why so squeamish? Why make a fetish
Out of everything you must relinquish?
Why not embellish what you can’t abolish?

What would be left if   you couldn’t brandish
All the slavishness you’ve failed to banish?
What would you be without this gibberish?

What if   the true worth of the varnish
Were to replenish your resolve to vanquish
Every vain wish before you vanish?

Source: Poetry (March 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2013
 David  Barber

Biography

David Barber’s most recent collection is Wonder Cabinet (Northwestern University Press, 2006). He is poetry editor of the Atlantic.

Continue reading this biography

Poems by David Barber

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Terza Rima

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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