This Film Has Been Edited for Content
On basic cable, the killer skulks
in his shadowy clothes and oversized hat
into the desolate building,
up the dark steps as nondiegetic cellos play,
and just before he blows out his victim's brains—
spaghetti sauce slung across a pale wall—
he whispers, "I've had it with your plucking spit!"
The boy-man with his Disney good looks,
thick hair and china doll eyes,
has been caught by the girl we all know he should love
in a compromising position,
leaning in despite his mostly flawless judgment
to kiss the duplicitous vixen
in thick make-up and short leather skirt,
and when at last he catches the truly good girl—
in an airport, of course, her blond hair glowing
in food-court fluorescence—he confesses,
"I was such a rotten ham casserole!"
Of course she takes him back.
The spy who travels the world,
London, Moscow, Marrakesh—
always in a tailored suit—
finds himself dropped inexplicably
in an Indiana cornfield,
weaving through rows to elude dark-faced gunmen
who will catch him in the end,
deposit him in a silo, spill dusty kernels
over his Armani, until impossibly
he pulls a grappling hook from a silk pocket,
swings his way to safety, lassoes those lackeys
of some off-screen evil genius, and just before
he buries them in amber waves of grain,
he declares, "God bless America. And shuck you."
Think a moment about the poor saps
whose job it is to swap this word for that—
to blindfold us with cellophane—
only to spare the audience offense
and networks a slew of federal fines.
Do they bring their work home with them?
When they nick a finger or stub a toe,
do they yell, "Puck!" or "Snit!"?
Do their grandmothers call them good girls, sweet boys?
Do their mothers call them clever?
We should give them even more credit.
We should name them frustrated poets, these souls
who worry as we do about next month's rent
and their children's grades and their lovers' moods
and the national debt and climate change,
and the mark they will leave on the world,
a mark they make now with words that sound like
other words but aren't those words,
aren't even most times their distant cousins,
but still they fit the shape of a mouth,
the lilt of a line, the tone of a moment
closely enough, if you hammer them in,
square pegs in round holes, if you hammer and hammer
until your arm tires, until you misfire
and strike your own thumb, declaring yourself
a rotten ham casserole.