from “Anti-lamentation” by Dorianne Laux


Three miles to town. Hitching Saturday rides

to the 20th century Fox for the double feature, hoping

to sit with someone you know. Lee Marvin, Redford,

you’ve walked those streets a thousand times, and still


the old cowboys are the only ones you trust, stoic

and lonely as your 14-year-old heart. You’d ride off

with anyone bearing warm hands and a bottle. No surprise

you end up here. Regret none of it, not one


pair of legs wrapped over you, not one cigarette ash

you had to blink away. Fucking the Marlboro boys,

hair singed and the first snort of cocaine, summer

of the wasted days, you wanted to know nothing


and succeeded, walking the roadside, left thumb high,

strategic signal of a wounded bird drawing danger

close. Behind you, little sandpipers cheeping

when the lights on the carnival rides


mashed neon into the backs of your eyelids.

Sleep a gift that birds tucked beneath a wing

but not you. Those big screen swaggers

were the only stars you believed in, loving them


from the ruined upholstery of the theater,

sucking Bacardi and Coke from a shared straw,

your hands in each other’s laps, exalted

for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.