Sheltering in Place. A poem by Tom Barlow

The mornings are sap inching down a tree trunk,
afternoons pass at the pace of an insect caught in
that amber. I measure my days with a hamster wheel.

Hours ago, she set out to gather, and it has been
twenty minutes. A watch is a mixed blessing when
each tick can represent another lover pitchforked
onto the pile of the beloved.

Why did we not rejoice when we had the license?
Why did we not jump hand in hand into the
breaking waves? How did we not know that
flesh is the ocean in which we need to exult?

Now, every evening is a wall to be scaled,
for over the top, over the shards of glass, waits
another day, and another. I can feel my life
dwindle like a vulture wheeling up the sky.


Tom Barlow is an Ohio poet whose work has appeared in journals including The Stoneboat Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Harbinger Asylum, Heron Clan, The Remington Review, Your Daily Poem, and many more. See more at

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