Matt W. Miller

Wonder Woman ‘84

Was there a better year than ’84 to be a kid in love
with the kind of movies that go deep into your skin
and not because they were good or bad or great
or that each shifted the world just a little or quite
a lot but the buzz of being young of being honey
heavy with young and we the first and last mass
of latchkey kids Gen X slackers already Well whatever
never mind
about being forgotten because we had
our movies and stood in lines that roped around
a block to see a show on opening day and I partied
my eleventh birthday at a second seeing of Ghostbusters
with buddies and Footloose we only went to because
the movie we wanted to see was sold out but Ren
had us holding out for a hero like the kids in Red Dawn
which I know now was dressed in Reagan but as boys
we wanted to be tough still I didn’t miss even at that age
the thin and bloody veil between terrorist and patriot
then I talked friends out of the teenage tit of Meatballs 2
to see Atreyu battle the Nothing in a Neverending Story
and I will ever be that sad Rockbiter Oh they look like
big strong hands don’t they?
and one summer night
my dad and I saw Danny Larusso take on Cobra Kai
and Allie with an “i” and the next night brought my brothers
and mother so they learned balance from Miyagi too
Splash? my brother’s boss asked in 2009 when Paul quoted
Hanks telling the cabbie to take him to Cape Cod and Paul
was so surprised that his boss didn’t also have it memorized
and Gremlins even though it takes place at Christmas
we saw in Salisbury while we were renting a summer
cottage at Seabrook Beach and I remember I drew Stripe
as a dragon when I got home and I can’t lie Spinal Tap,
Sixteen Candles and Terminator trickled into our house
from Video Views and also Purple Rain but my brother
Jon had a bootleg of the soundtrack and those aren’t even
the whole list I mean Toxic Avenger, Buckaroo Bansai, Starman,
C.H.U.D (cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers)?
and each one its own story of seeing so it was just going
to the movies which may be for me even better than poetry
just sharing the dark with your friends as heroes and villains
blaze or burn in celluloid and sneakers step on sticky floors
so I love going and now my daughter loves going has always
loved going to get lost in light it’s become the thing we do
from watching Wall-E or wishing Thor had gone for the head
but this last year has been such a robbed year for the young
and there has been no going to the movies no chance for her
to be a seriously silly with friends and so a simple Christmas
gift (she actually cried!) for 200 bucks food not included
I rented a theater just this afternoon and I took her
to see Wonder Woman ’84 her friends were dropped off
by their parents so they could sit six feet apart in masks
and they laughed and got lost in story less for the story
which wasn’t actually all that good (Come on, Patty!) but for
the gathering for a story where no one is lost inside a glass
or behind a mask all the world a hairspray neon glow

Matt W. Miller’s newest collection, Tender the River, will be published by Texas Review Press in 2021. He is the author of the collections The Wounded for the Water, Club Icarus, winner of the 2012 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize and Cameo Diner. He’s had work published in Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Narrative Magazine, Southwest Review, Massachusetts Review, Adroit Journal, and Crazyhorse. He is the winner of Nimrod International’s Pablo Neruda Prize, The Poetry by the Sea Conference’s Sonnet Crown Contest, River Styx’s Microbrew/Microfiction Prize, and Iron Horse Review’s Trifecta Poetry Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Poetry at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he teaches English at Phillips Exeter Academy and is an associate editor for 32 Poems. He lives with his family in coastal New Hampshire.

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Winter 2021