It’s about young love.
It’s about a small southern town
the kind where there’s always cars
to fix and a couch in the field
where the teens go to smoke and throw
rocks and through the scrub of
trees there’s a gouge of middle blue
most days. A three-legged dog
hobbles by on two. Shift ends, the mill
workers step out into the breeze
against their shirt-sleeved arms,
into the open mouth of the summer
night, pat down their pockets for cigarettes
or keys. There’s a refurbished piano
in the tall grass; now and then someone
plays. I think from everything I’m saying
you can tell what I mean, that it’s tough
but it’s also tender, this life and its
unfolding. And no way is there a better girl
around than the one played by a baby-faced
Zooey Deschanel, who returns
from boarding school with a heart
like a racehorse sprinting for the miracle
finish. I won’t give away what happens,
but I want to tell you about the
scene when the cool guy
begrudgingly dresses up like a clown
as a favor to his mother
played by Patricia Clarkson
and performs for a
group of children at
the local hospital. The whole
scene of syncopation and
jutting elbows plays out over
“Apocalypso” by Mazinga
Phaser, what I’m going
to describe as elegiac spacerock
though I’m lousy at knowing
what music is or isn’t
made of. It’s upbeat; it’s
shivery and the clowns
basically do an interpretive
dance that feels not at all
appropriate slash cheerful. The room
is swathed in green and yellow,
the colors of parachutes or
bright balloons. But there’s
a single moment at the very
end where the cool guy
looks dead at the camera
and scowls, like he’s breaking
character, like he’s really disgusted
by the fact of his performance,
how he had to put on a dumb
colorful suit and act bonkers
for the length of a song, even
though the room is full of sick
kids, pale and waifish kids, and
he’s forgotten what it means
to be able to walk out the revolving
doors when the song ends, to walk
out into the sunshine of the parking
lot and straight into a day
that might if you’re lucky
let you take off your jacket down
by the river and in the loud
trance of rapids, sit
and skip stones
and think how maybe this
is all you get after all, just
some water and some sunlight
and some trees and some rocks,
and isn’t it really something
of a miracle this business
of just staying alive?






what do you owe the politician

of the gaze cast down,

remorse clasped
to your throat like a locket

full of bees.
Some terrible hour on a Saturday,

heels sinking divots in the soft grass,

a measured green.

Everybody hanging on for dear life.



The disease
of not knowing
what to do
with your hands.
Rain drags
the morning
down. The gutters
and the reservoirs
and the drains
fill up.
Is it obvious
how I listen,
don’t speak.
And the world
carries on
its small
Soon the train
clacks over
the bridge
over the river
getting higher.
What a failure
of imagination
these days
have become.
Reheat yesterday’s
coffee on the
stove. I don’t
know how
to help you
A dead balloon
waves from
the powerline
and a squirrel
scrambles away
from it. I wish
I could show
you this
is all there is:
of breaking;
moments of