Honoring Barry Spacks

Posted on Feb 12 by Leslie Dinaberg

Santa Barbara’s first Poet Laureate, Barry Spacks, passed away recently. We were honored to publish his poem, “In Winter, Thinking Summer,” in the current issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS.

A community memorial celebration of Barry’s life will be held on Sunday, March 9, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, 653 Paseo Nuevo, from 3–6 p.m. “Barry’s artwork will be on display, his poems will be read, and his songs will be performed,” says current Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Chryss Yost, who is organizing the event. “Specifics of the program are still being developed, but our goal is to celebrate a creative force in our community with appropriate flare!”

Meanwhile, we’d like to share Barry’s poem, and a brief introduction.

“In Winter, Thinking Summer” is classic Barry Spacks.  The poem’s wistfulness and Zen-like attention to detail, its clear-eyed wisdom, remind us what a privilege it is to have a poet of Barry’s gifts living in our midst.

David Starkey, contributing editor, poetry



By Barry Spacks


Winter austerity:


steam from the black kettle

quivers up the bones

inner fur goes white:

white bear

sniffing arctic fox





In winter we imagine

a sweatless summer

season that does not exist


where supreme events

flow on like ballet

where no meanness is


where lovers move as if underwater,

such is their ease, their





In winter, daughter Coco

paints her room’s door Chinese red,

color as deep as her hungers.




Clearing out the acreage,

what are these dried desire-blooms?


O, to enter you

high summer Goddess, as you enter me

till the forked tongue of your warmth

emerges from my eyes!

Eternal summer

always at the gate,


let me

let you in.



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