Sunday, February 26, 2017



Bright copper sparks from the sidewalk   
in strong spring light. Peer down. Curved

copper back of a speck-sized bug, dome
of some microscopic faith—flaring, flaring.  

Dogs’ feet, people’s feet, stroller wheels pass
heedlessly above. On it basks, a dot alive.  

This poem is dedicated to my friend Malcolm Pearcey,
who entered my mind while I wrote these lines and who
visits again every time I think of them

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Adjustment League (a novel by Mike Barnes)

“Masterful … The Adjustment League is suspenseful, exquisitely written and—at times—corrosively funny.”Maclean’s, Feature Profile and Editor’s Pick
“Mike Barnes’s The Adjustment League weaves together elements of a psychological drama and a noir thriller as it follows a nameless man who feels compelled to right the wrongs inflicted on the helpless … The dialogue flows naturally within a narrative that tightens, flares, and grows intense with perceptive  descriptions, references, and allusions … [B]oth a literary tour de force and a deft psychological thriller.”—Foreword Reviews 
“Recounted in fragmented, almost impressionistic prose that is sharp as glass shards, The Adjustment an intense journey into the underbelly of contemporary society, and a visceral descent into darkness. It is a powerful and original work, which succeeds as a mystery and something altogether deeper.”—Quill and Quire
The Adjustment League is a unique Noir thriller, fast-paced, dark and chilling but infused with a poet’s rich and compelling lode of metaphor and language – a dark gem of a book.”—Goodreads 
The Adjustment League’s superpower is in its crackling portraits. The Super takes his place in the queue of great damaged detectives (see Sherlock Holmes). ...It’s this Superman’s mind that’s stronger than steel.”The Globe and Mail 
“A deftly crafted noir mystery/suspense thriller of a novel by an author who is a master of the genre, The Adjustment League is a riveting read from cover to cover and highly recommended for community library collections.”Midwest Book Review 
“A literary thriller of stabbing insight that’s often corrosively funny”—Maclean's Best Books of 2016 

“… fiercely alive, marked by a sharp, unerring eye for detail and a wonderful way with metaphors.”Toronto Star
“His lucid prose brings to mind Poe’s Gothic horror, Hunter S. Thompson’s strangeness (without the drug-craze), and William Burroughs’ ellipsis (without the disintegration). But it is perhaps closest to Roald Dahl’s intimate exploration of human oddity and use of surprise in Switch Bitch.”Globe and Mail
“Barnes writes like a contrary angel, dazzling with his deft craft and smacking readers in the gut with concentrated and perceptive subjects.”Malahat Review

Published 23 August 2016 by Biblioasis .

Profile of author and book in Maclean's magazine (18 August 2016 issue).

Essays by author published online by Maclean's (links also within article):
Living and Writing with Mental Illness (originally entitled "Lifebook and Beast")
Being Upfront about Mental Illness  (originally entitled "Inside-Out (Following Giselle)")
The Collective Fear of Alzheimer's (originally entitled "Where is Everybody?")
My Favourite Reading Place (originally entitled "The Freight Elevator") 


Foreword Reviews 
Quill and Quire 
The Globe and Mail
Midwest Book Review

Author Interviews:

Open Book "Lucky Seven" interview 
Hamilton Review of Books

Related Essays by Author: 

Top 6 Reasons to Beware of Top 10 Writing Tips (posted in The Strand)

A Room in the Dark (posted on Beatrice)

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Maiden Aunt

A Maiden Aunt

Wanting to arrange some words on a page,
I suddenly recall my Aunt Mary’s hands:
how, beneath the loud exuberant voice
that so annoyed my parents, unremarked,
her slim, turquoise-veined fingers
roamed alertly over the silverware and china   
she’d washed and polished earlier,
setting out the places where we’d eat
our once-a-year dinner in her home.

Sunday, May 8, 2016



A bright spring day, a loved one ill,
Fresh greening air, her curtains drawn.
Putting on weight with these midnight snacks
While she can’t keep down ginger ale.
Worlds so myriad, unparalleled—
Yet touching, crossing, inter-dwelt. 


Friday, April 22, 2016

...of all the things...

Such mystery sometimes in what gladdens or afflicts the heart: of all the things I saw today, this one strengthened me most

Old woman with a little blue-vested dog
coming out of the Bayview Village Mall washroom—
she so ancient, her companion minuscule,
held together by a taut thin line of pink.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cold Fireflies

Cold Fireflies

Right-minded so far today
after three months of crazy—
what relief can compare?
It’s too deep for joy. Too delicate.

Three, four hours now since
waking in the still bed,
waking slowly, the covers                                    
not torn apart, the walls blank and holding.  

No breakthroughs yet. But
how long can it last?                                            
I’m half afraid to write these lines.                       
Even thinking them feels reckless.  

Just now. Watch these specks                              
of snow, so tiny, so intermittent,
appear and disappear in the air,
jig this way and dance that, cold            

fireflies, some finding their way
to the dark ground, where they melt.          

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lazy Song at Last

Lazy Song at Last

Write this on the breezes stirring
in this quiet, nameless spot where      

woodland rock descends to wetlands.
Take the ambitions I’ve no use for

anymore, sail them on a maple key
down this trickle emptying the bog.

With luck they’ll find the river I
hear faintly beyond the trees, maybe

reach Lake Huron before freeze-up.
But even if they stop at the next        

windless inlet, snagged on some chance
tangle of debris, it’s enough to watch

as they drift silently away, helped
by these straying breaths of pine.