The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Becca Barniskis’ “Mimi and Xavier Star in a Museum That Fits Entirely in One’s Pocket”


From “Act III”

The stage shrinks down to a slender column of light.

Xavier Box

[walking around a cabinet lit from within and
stopping to peer inside from time to time, his
breath creating small clouds on the glass]
Dead cicada. Dried pod.
Greasy feather and what seems like a working compass.
Miniature furniture. Nonfunctioning radio.
A row of bones hanging on a string.
Must be all those soldiers
she killed.

Now I sleep standing up, marry
the light to memory
so that I may recall exactly
the correct sequence of events:

One I whistled. Two she returned.
Three I attacked the guard. Four I rattled at her cage.
Five we fled. Six we knocked out a soldier
standing by the entrance.
Seven is the steps leading down
and eight the rasp
of the heavy door opening to the outside
courtyard. Nine the horse.
Ten the ridge at night—
eleven her breath hot at the back of my neck
and the cold metal of the gun
she lifted coolly from the guard’s holster
as we ran by his slumped form.
Twelve is here, [tapping]
this glass.

This selection comes from Becca Barniskis chapbook Mimi and Xavier Star in a Museum That Fits Entirely in One’s Pocket, available from Anomalous Press. Purchase your copy here!

Becca Barniskis’ chapbook of poems, Mimi and Xavier Star in a Museum That Fits Entirely in One’s Pocket is just out (2014) from Anomalous Press and is available also as a musical collaboration with Nick Jaffe in both vinyl and digital formats. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from numerous journals, among them Handsome, The Boiler, Mid-American Review, burntdistrictConduit, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird and the Northwest Review. She teaches poetry and she works as a freelance writer and consultant in arts education for a range of schools, arts organizations and public agencies across the upper Midwest and around the US. Along with her co-authors Nick Jaffe and Barbara Hackett Cox she wrote the Teaching Artist Handbook, vol. 1: Tools, Techniques and Ideas to Help Any Artist Teach (University of Chicago Press). Becca is an associate editor at the Teaching Artist Journal. She also helped launch and develop Artist to Artist, a growing network of artists and educators who meet regularly to develop and share their teaching practice.

T.A. Noonan is the author of several books and chapbooks, most recently four sparks fall: a novella (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, 2013) and, with Erin Elizabeth Smith, Skate or Die (Dusie Kollektiv, 2014). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Reunion: The Dallas ReviewWest Wind Review, HobartNinth Letter, and Phoebe, among others. A weightlifter, crafter, priestess, and all-around woman of action, she serves as the Associate Editor of Sundress Publications, Founding Editor of Flaming Giblet Press, and Literary Arts Director for the Sundress Academy of the Arts.

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