“Under a Bare Bulb” by Walter Bargen

Horizon 22 20, Gordon Skalleberg
She whispers not this bed, chair, room,
the next room, porch.
Too familiar, predictable, the boredom unrelenting.
The outcome known before it’s expected.
Thick as molasses and nothing sweet about it.
Cloying, yes, long before a lip reaches the jar’s lip.
She’s a growing leak in the kitchen, words gaining
speed until it’s a continuous stream.
The porcelain stained from the down pouring
of rust and vitriol.  The month’s water bill
astronomical.  The plumber never calls,
no one believes in a fixed cosmos anymore.
This is not where she wants to be.
Yellow Pages a temporary solution:
a costume shop for a change of life.
What will it take she wonders
to repair the fist-size hole in the wall
above her head?  What will it take
to move off the dime, leave the hole
for the wasps and mice?
She shouts that a dozen anthropod species
were just discovered in a cave in Indiana.
Why can’t she discover one cold home?
Not here, but states away, mountains away,
plains away, far-flung oceans,
the tease of horizon’s afterglow.


Photo taken by William Palmer

Walter Bargen has published 25 books of poetry including Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (BkMk Press, 2013), Perishable Kingdoms (Grito del Lobo Press, 2017), Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019), Pole Dancing in the Night Club of God (Red Mountain Press, 2020), and You Wounded Miracle (Liliom Verlag, 2021). His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Chester H. Jones Foundation Award, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). 

Swedish artist Gordon Skalleberg paints in oil on untreated wood, unique grain patterns are visible beneath the paint, intensifying movement and texture. Now residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Skalleberg transitioned to full-time artist after years in the family’s business. His relocation inspired a distinctive twist on Southwestern features – desert landscapes, mountains, open skies – in a semi-abstract landscape-style. His work has shown in Sweden, New York, and Santa Fe, and he has done commissioned portraits for a Netflix production.

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