disposable camera (I)
skylight comes on springgray the first Stockholm morning then stays its shade ninedays a weekplusoneplusone, but for now and then breaks the hours afternooning when sunbright screams through the welkin, weak by shadows’ hum and metal dust dyed atmosphere singing itself above us
staden stands and stretches torget to tornet, å by å by å and oh, from the top of the oldred brickbuilt tower, like coral ripping up to heaven, triplecrowned but public tours open on the hour to pay for the belfry. We circle up the stairs to see the span, take in the wind cursing the bells verdigris through the iron bars. Fourhundred feet up in blue, take stock of Stockholm: tree fort, but tongues never really know just what they name. Up here it’s just a pretty stump city through the giants’ view a seagulls’ sight, with cluck cluck of flags clipping off graygusts onto the Easterfeather streaks before us,
of Gamla stan’s walls, clay colored cobbles
and the sizzling rust on St. George in the town square
belowdownback rounding off the corner from where the black Kungsbil kingcar Volvo limo waved us off the bluewood gifthorse huge Dalahäst’s back we rode on as he rode by us, crooks in full view of Riddersholm across the water, stonewalk squealing me down to the gardendare me to stripshirt next to the Strindberg’s statue? of course I will I will I will anything for the picture. The harbor’s white caps hush up
crossing the bridgewalk, skipping, always click clicking a cameraeye on how the city’s seamsharbors and streamsshine goldchrome then copperspark like the alljaw flounder at the central market by the little stand I buy cloudberry jam at, hear the Swedes fake French for tourists and camouflage mon accent grave Americain with kan jag få ta, ursäkta, and tack, tack, tacktacktack in ouroboros — I thank everything I can, I thanks a lot.
Half Asleep In The Holland Tunnel
White: the tunnel light through the window bars wide apart so I can see to write this.
Cramped upstairs on the doubledecker, feeling starry speeding the submarine lanes
between the island and its neighbor’s snow-colored shore. By miracle, the walls gleam
spotless and impossible. Twin tracks of too-bright tube fluorescents align blazing spines
in the ceiling’s bow, beams streak the moonroof through to me, in stripes across the eyes
I catch as shadow cast in plexiglass: my gray self spectral above some sleeping stranger’s
impeccable ivory cable knit sleeve. The cell phone beep across the aisle must mean
code or bomb or bird in his subconscious, whatever he thinks he hears through the bass
of the road bumps. Cement seam plectrum under our six tires—pumpum, pumpum, pumpum—
keeps steady at sixty miles an hour. Those grooves gouged along the highway lines, spaced
precisely as stopwatch ticks, shriek if tired drivers drift across them. When we careen
toward the rightside tile, I dream earthquake before the tar ridges whistle me awake
to write this through. Light parts the bars. I can see windows, the tunnel widening, so white—
Daniel Barnum lives down by the river in the middle of nowhere. He has written on arts and culture for Flaunt and Gawker. His poetry has been featured in the St. Sebastian Review. He studies film and translation at Bucknell University.
image by the author