You Sure Are a Secret Man

by Arielle Greenberg

(Out of the Past, d. Jacques Tourneur)

Homicidal girlfriends happen even in the ambient glow of day,
        or in the bright juke light of a breakfast joint,
        or a sleepy cantina too easily found,
        or by lake light, tackle box open.

When they screw, which is the thing we cannot see, it knocks over the
lamp
        and blows the door open on the bungalow.

I don’t know what we were waiting for.

A car ride to Lake Tahoe is a good time to tell a backwards story,
        and we are always behind the man’s angled hat as he drives.
        Riding behind him again later as he kisses her oddly precise
mouth.

Much can be gleaned by sitting out the afternoon drinking beer
        next door to a movie house.

He never stops smoking. He’s offered a cigarette from a pack
        when he’s already smoking a cigarette,
        and has to point out that he’s already smoking.

Everyone’s being followed. Everyone shows up on the veranda for
grapefruit
        in a crystal bowl when you least expect it. Everyone’s fishing.

A deaf boy can hook a gangster. Can lie to even the pretty girl
        who lives at home with her parents in a Victorian house
        held off from the desert by a barbed wire fence.

Let’s find a way to lose more slowly.


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.