The Last Sunset in Barrow, Alaska

Matthew Burns

(two weeks after the election)


We’ll subsist on spruce tea

            and satellite TV

for sixty days.  Work will come, 

and we’ll look to the sky.  

But day must rise

             in another dusk, and night

in some weird red light.  

This town is a synonym

             for carrier, hod—something

to heft something heavier than us—

              and the night is a weight. We know. 

It will be dark for days

and days that will feel

             like a sheet of ice

fifty meters deep.  The wind

is a movie we’ve all seen; 

             it weighs on everything.  

The long dark is another

stack of bricks; a wide lead smock.  

             But yet this: my chest

and belly: somehow, again, 

warm and adrift.  The TV is on, 

             and the warm cup of the sun, 

the day, will—it must, 

I believe—come again.


Matthew Burns teaches writing and literature in upstate New York. His poems have won a James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review, received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations, and have appeared or are forthcoming in RHINO, Posit, ellipsis…, The Raleigh Review, Camas, Spoon River Poetry Review, Quiddity, LimeHawk, and others.

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