'Ken, Barbie, and Me': A poem by James Brown

'Ken, Barbie, and Me': A poem by James Brown

Posted by Ashleigh Young on 31st Jul 2023

THWUP jumps on the Barbie bandwagon this week with a poem by James Brown, from his collection Floods Another Chamber. We're looking forward to a new James Brown collection in 2024, but for now we enjoy the classic hits.

James Brown, from Palmerston North. (Photo: Russell Kleyn)

Ken, Barbie, and Me

We wake to the house shaking. No,
it isn’t Ken and Jell-O Fun Barbie, it’s
an earthquake. To celebrate, Workin’ Out Barbie,
Ken, and I go outside and bounce
on the trampoline. I double bounce Ken
into the begonia.

It rains and it rains and it rains. Houses
flood, roads flood, the garden floods.
We are cut off. I send Ken for help, while
Faraway Forest Water Sprite Barbie wisely exchanges
her en pointe Ballet Wishes Barbie legs for
Rainbow Lights Mermaid Barbie’s tail.

The volcano I audition sets the perfect stage for
Paleontologist Barbie. In safari shorts and
dinosaur-print shirt, she chips away at the lava
engulfing Ken. Super Sauna Barbie sweat
beads Barbie Makeup Artist-ically on her serene
Civil War Nurse Barbie brow.

The sandstorm catches us unawares. But
Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra Barbie steps up.
We lower Ken into a Tomb of Worms
then take a Barbie Sisters Golf Cart to an oasis
where Sunsational Malibu Barbie is eager for some
Sparkle Beach Barbie Volleyball Fun.

A tsunami warning blares. We pile an extensive
range of Barbie Beach Party swimwear onto a
Barbie Star Light Adventure Flying RC Hoverboard.
The moon is magnificent. Moonlight Halloween Barbie
slips sleek as a dolphin into a pink and black
Barbie SeaWorld Trainer wetsuit.

Oh no! Wedding Day Barbie’s heart is
on fire. I read Fire Fighter Barbie’s ‘Safety Tips’.
I trim Totally Hair Barbie’s hair, then a little more,
until she’s Punk Barbie – pink bob, tattoos –
‘the Barbie you’ll never get to play with’.
Ken takes my hand. Barbie She Said Yes! gives me

a smouldering stare. What a scene! ‘Cut!’
Right on cue, Barbie Film Director’s head appears
on a plate, and the credits start rolling.

© James Brown, Floods Another Chamber (Te Herenga Waka University Press, 2017)