X-phile

The horror! The horror! For Barry McDonald, believing is not always seeing.

As the team finished up and prepared to leave, Barry noticed "a black mist" hovering above the house. "We tore out of there pretty fast," he says. "And all the way home, something was beating the crap out of the top of the car. When we got back to my trailer, it stopped. When we got out, there were claw marks on top and a substance like blood."

They told themselves that an animal had somehow climbed atop the car. But a few weeks later, while Barry and his friends kicked back on his couch, "a big orb of light floated through the living room and out the back window," he remembers.

"We all looked at each other. 'Did you see that?' 'Uh, yeah.' And that was the start of it."

I think that I shall never see a poet as dead as he pretends to be: Barry McDonald in his casket.The basement tapes: Barry McDonald in his basement dedicated to all things creepy.
John Johnston
I think that I shall never see a poet as dead as he pretends to be: Barry McDonald in his casket.The basement tapes: Barry McDonald in his basement dedicated to all things creepy.
I think that I shall never see a poet as dead as he pretends to be: Barry McDonald in his casket.
John Johnston
I think that I shall never see a poet as dead as he pretends to be: Barry McDonald in his casket.

Barry and Janet would be watching TV when they'd hear someone peeing in the bathroom, then flushing the toilet. But when they investigated, no one was there. They'd find pictures flipped over, cassette tapes arranged in geometrical patterns, alarm clocks hurled across the room. They'd hear what sounded like pots and pans falling from the cupboards and more peeing and flushing. "At least it was a clean ghost," Barry says.

One night, he and his wife were in the kitchen when Barry heard someone say, "Get out!"

Barry walked down the hall and to the bedroom where the voice had come from. "I opened the door, and everything in the room was just tossing around," he says. "My Beatles posters were flapping around on the walls, but there was no wind. I walked in the room, and not a hair on my head moved. Then I heard 'Get out!' And something shoved me."

The trailer began to convulse.

"Banging under the floor," Barry remembers. "Banging on the ceiling. Walls flexing like they were breathing. The lid to a brand-new jar of peanuts coming unscrewed and shooting across the room."

The couple bolted and didn't return home for four days. And when they did, they brought PARA 4 members with them. Again, the trailer erupted into "total horror-house stuff."

This time the McDonalds left for good, leaving everything except a few armloads of clothes behind in the trailer.

About a month later, the man who'd rented the trailer walked up to Barry with a question: "You're going to think I'm totally psycho," he said, "but when you lived over here, did anything weird happen?'"

After that, Janet laid down the law: No more playing in cemeteries. So Barry left the service, returned to Colorado and became a UFO hunter.


SUFOIT -- the Scientific Unidentified Flying Object Identification Team -- consisted of Barry and another guy who liked beer, bowling and UFOs (but easy on the beer).

"We're totally serious. Our whole mission is to prove what can be proven -- and if it's a hoax, to come out and say it's a hoax," Barry says. "My wife thought UFOs would be safer. Little did she know there were abductions."

Barry and his buddy bought more cameras, more microphones, more recorders and more computer equipment and proceeded to "lay out at night in cold fields." There they saw "numerous lights," "an orange globe flying over Denver" and "a classic saucer-shaped object."

"Anyone could see these things if they spent as much time with their heads up in the sky as I have," Barry explains. "Almost everybody has seen a UFO at one time and not known it. Me, I know it. But we've never seen any little green men -- or little gray men. Yet."

He and his team, which has grown and gone international (the Web site is at sufoit.com), Barry says, also spent considerable time researching a secret military base above Boulder called "Vortex" -- "I've never found it, but I'd love to be escorted off" -- as well as the fabled Area 51.

"Which is no longer in Nevada," Barry notes. "It's now by Salida, which is the UFO capital of the world. Salida is an ancient Indian word meaning 'gateway.' Hmmm. I wonder why?"

For Barry, no conspiracy is too elaborate. No theory is too theoretical. And although SUFOIT leaves the alien Elvis sightings to the National Enquirer, no call goes unanswered.

Not long ago, for example, Barry handled this dispatch: "A big, huge, multi-lighted, multi-colored, monstrous UFO" had been seen "hovering low over Thornton."

"So I shot out of here at like five in the morning," Barry recalls. "And I'm thinking, oh, shit. This is it! This is going to bust the top off of this. It's flying over neighborhoods. There's just no way everyone in the world is not seeing this. I'm breaking speed limits to catch this thing. My heart was racing."

When he finally pulled under the craft, Barry gasped.

"Have you ever seen that UFO-shaped hot-air balloon?" he asks. "They had that bad boy all lit up, too. Damn, it was pretty. I just sat there and thought, 'You bastards.' Yeah, I pretty much keep that one to myself now."


So what does this have to do with poetry?

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