North by Northwest


Think thin, America, in silhouettes
Of evening dress and city lines.
Think what the fashion of your money gets —
It buys your architecture and your signs.

It buys the structure of your cocktails,
And single-breasted suits in gray,
And girls with all the right details.
It buys you clever things to say.

And in dark bars and railway cars,
When the light is dim enough, the gin
Just cold enough, the girls American

And tall and blonde enough, one hears
The torch song and not the prehistoric wind
That’s always sweeping down the plains.

Peter Swanson’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Notre Dame Review, and Slant, among others. He is currently completing a sonnet sequence on all 53 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, and his debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, is forthcoming from William Morrow.

First published in Measure, Volume 8, Issue 2 (2013)