(Gun Crazy, d. Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)
My name is a flag.
I was born inside a parade,
my teeth biting down on ridges of a silver baton.
I hold my small chin upward. I killed a man in St. Louis, once.
I wear an iron crown of matches. I’ve started kicking back.
Break all the plate glass windows for me, won’tcha?
Fireworks, then fireworks. A diamond we’ll hawk later.
It’s a dangerous life, and wild:
We are beautiful, scared animals in a swamp.
I will nuzzle you in the mist while God watches,
pearl-handled revolver in his holster.
No double-cross waits in my black eyes.
It’s too good to be close to you.
I was a girl who wanted things to happen. You, for starters.
And you happened to me.
Arielle Greenberg is the Resident Poet at Bright Wall/Dark Room. She is the co-author of Home/Birth: A Poemic; author of My Kafka Century and Given; and co-editor of three anthologies, including Gurlesque. She lives in Maine and teaches in the community and in Oregon State University-Cascades’ MFA; she is currently teaching a course in American cinema to insightful students at the Maine State Prison enrolled through the University of College at Rockland (hi, guys!). Arielle writes a regular column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review.