The State Bird’s the Meadowlark

(Badlands, d. Malick, 1973)

Hot, early suburb, still as the wedding cake in the freezer

given over to the dogs. A lot of cruelty to sweet beasts, a lot of dogs and men shot

while the girl—name her for Christmas, name her for Elvis—

diaries the bad blank masochist romance novel

in sentences she lick-spells onto the roof of her mouth.

Kit is two syllables, is James Dean, so-called, waves broadly, will try anything once,

and so her crinolines and bobby socks get trashed into the rusted can;

he makes a suicide A-side at the punched-through recording studio;

arsons up the dollhouse and piano;

and they set forth to make numb writ large.

O, let us all return to the treehouse and the tunnel by the river,

choose a new password for cloud-watching and two-stepping in the dusty

idyll of the forest, post-murder, pre-Vietnam, on the lam from the world of

just kinda blah, like when all the water’s run out of the bathtub.

Blue sky like empty faith. Her finger sings

inside a hostage industrialist’s glass. It doesn’t rain, not once


Arielle Greenberg is Bright Wall/Dark Room‘s Resident Poet. 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.