Janie Elizabeth Miller
Field Notes (The Arcade Poem)
For fifty cents you can sharpen a fang,
sink your claw around the rifle’s trigger.
Take cover behind the bush, resist the rosemary’s
aroma, and sidle the plastic butt firmly to your shoulder.
Programmed sunset drips in the background, breathe
an arrow down the gun’s sight, you’ve been here before.
A deer hops through the pasture, nibbles oat straw,
looks straight up the rifle’s barrel.
Confess you love the composition, the way
it eases your senses into a finely tuned fork
banging against flawless crystal.
Confess you loved that talented seal on TV who gripped
drum sticks, beat Sweet Caroline into trash can lids
in David Letterman’s uptown studio.
The seal’s name was Henrietta and you wanted to accompany her
with your bamboo recorder like the solo performance
in the lunchroom when you were ten. All red-faced,
asphyxiated, and wanting to die. We were all dreams then.
Shoot the deer. You shoot the deer, drop the rifle,
and leave the bar. Who knew she’d come prancing out—first right to left
then so innocently left to right, begging to be seen.
The landscape drew you in, made a promise.
You became the animal you were meant to be.