High Stakes
Daniel Barnum

shadow of silver struck on the shark fin. a sense of danger coming on with the nearing clouds. your breath made visible at lesser temperatures. the mountain standing like a man in the window frame. the first thing seen upon rising. sundry failures greater than comprehension: the burnt town, burnt woods, a scene you speed past on the side of the road. a glass house sinking into its center, tethered to outside only by the fast facts of light. whichever birds become most colorful in the blur of their hunter’s sight. that rough hope they built a tower out of, standing still in our blueless skyline. the space between there and this gesture, redacted, like a tyrant’s name.

                                                which value has no place in the equation. how one side of the triangle sags into another’s lengthening. doors open onto long hallways: sunset loops backward, cadabras to sunrise. the pain scale claim bears no relation to the size of the wound. in another life, there’s everyone you’ve ever lost, up late waiting on your arrival. not too soon. many strangers will love you better than you expect them to. others, not so much. comfort assumes unearthly forms. and what about aftermath? that which you’ve searched for has a title, one you just haven’t earned. not yet. call forth future, and it bounds in like some lake-bright creature, disappears as it reaches your open palm.
Daniel Barnum's poems and essays appear in Couplet Poetry, The Offing, Muzzle, Evergreen Review, Washington Square Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. They live in Philadelphia.


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