Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Daniel Barnum


"The Thing"
 

then there the west was, wasting space with all its obvious
                        places. its dust and deadly colored canyons contrast
against the blind horizon and winds scratch the orange

                        earth 'cross the highway where sands storm above the asphalt.
a tall tale town name on a roadside sign made me mark
                        that lot of desert dirt as dearer than the rest. another spot

we stopped to see what the map key had left nameless.
                        the thing was past the arizona border on a hilltop.
the billboards kept the mileage, lapping our dashboard's

                        lazy meter. for a dollar each, two dollars, we went
back behind the gift shop. we saw it. what we saw,
                        whatever it was: a poor man's mummy, or just some unfunny

something saved to excite the guidebook. the last exit
                        for kitsch to busy kids amid boring badlands. before we left,
I bought a cottonwood kachina—icon of the hopi eschaton

                        remembered from my mom's mother's odd collection
I'd known too young to reckon magick. the doll—no toy—
                        my blue paint face feather-haloed saint with toothpick

spear and dyed leather gear whips stars out of skies.
                        the little card the cashier supplies says so and why,
claims the end is nigh. he packs it up in styrofoam.
 


Daniel Barnum studies literature and translation at Uppsala University in Sweden, on exchange from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. His work appears in or is forthcoming from Ninth Letter, Lullwater Review, The White Elephant, and The St. Sebastian Review. His current projects center on queer existence, homeplaces, Monster Energy drink, and the end times.


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