In the Clearing

by Daniel Barnum Issue: Spring/Summer 2021

the man with the dead head in his hands
wanted to buy a box. he was holding the buck
mount by the antlers. a stuffed six-pointer, young
still, but old enough to live alone
during its rut, which this should have been. fall. 
not that I knew fuck-all about hunting, or have learned 
anything since without looking it up. in its final
face, the deer appeared convincingly alive, just without 
signs of anguish or desire. ways I have heard others
describe life. staring into the fire-
less smoke of its glass eye, it was easy to forget 
where I was for the minute it took to drown
its glare in green packing peanuts. the customer
whistled a bomb drop when I told him 
how much everything would cost. 
said it came as a shock, but no surprise.
 



Daniel Barnum

Daniel Barnum lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio, where they serve as the managing editor of The Journal. Their poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming from West Branch, Hayden's Ferry Review, Muzzle, Bat City Review, The Hopkins Review, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Their work is featured in Best New Poets 2020, and included as notable in Best American Essays 2020. Their debut chapbook, Names for Animals (Seven Kitchens Press), came out in March 2020. Find them at danielbarnum.net & @daniel_bar_none