“Boy in the Bubble” by Paul Simon


When the bellows are pulled out at the jumpstart of “Boy in the Bubble,” it’s a kind of inverted speech, punctuated by tom-toms slammed like two revival fists on the hallelujah podium. Then the groove, and we know it’s professional—you can hear the way a studio sounds.

It was a slow day. There was a bright light, a shattering of shop windows. Paul Simon is the effortless guide to late history’s promises. When I first reconciled this opening scene—the terrorist detonation, so ubiquitous in our psyche now—I was hardly thirteen, and it was the first time I really knew the world was damaged. But how could I believe it? Those G, C, and D chords, so full-bodied, so full, in anthemic declaration: These are the days of miracle and wonder.

And don’t cry baby, don’t cry. It isn’t just irony. It’s a radical ambivalence, lasers in the jungle, the nuclear collision of hope and threat in the static of constant information. Our uncertainty is a kind of medicine, magic, and art. It is so big—big as a gospel choir. And somehow in it, release: oooh-ed into the fade.

-Ryo Yamaguchi

Ryo Yamaguchi photo credit Kate Goddard-3Ryo Yamaguchi is the author of the poetry collection The Refusal of Suitors (Noemi Press, 2015). His poetry has appeared in journals such as The Iowa Review, Prodigal, and The Journal, among others. He also regularly reviews books for outlets such as Michigan Quarterly Review and NewPages. He lives in Chicago where he works at the University of Chicago Press. You can visit him at plotsandoaths.com.   

Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

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