I’ve Never Been Much Good

(Gun Crazy, d. Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)

My name is a flag.
Big things.

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.