“It’s the Night Time” by Josh Rouse
A friend recently told me, “life is most interesting when it gets weird.” It’s not a new sentiment, but the word weird has potential to mean many things; here, I take it to mean something unharnessed, exciting even. Set to peaceful, almost pop-sounding music, Josh Rouse’s song contains some of these moments. The lyrics open with a fairly benign (love) scene where someone watches someone else dance around a living room. Then, we find out the watcher is outside this person’s home watching them dance. They may have once known each other, but it doesn’t seem to be a shared watching. Yet, it’s not violent, either. Somewhere between obsessive and hopeful? Later in the song, a more stark turn when the singer proposes “we can go to your room / I can try on your clothes.” When I first heard these lyrics, I understood the sentiment—having a desire so great that you’re willing to take risks, willing to be open with someone else. These are some of the same things I love about poems, turns and surprises, the tensing of expectations. Tension, in a variety of ways (lexical, semantic, musical, etc.), creates such full spaces.
Bret Shepard currently teaches at the University of Idaho, where he is also director of creative writing. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters and Commentary, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Diagram, FIELD, PANK, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere. He co-edits Dikembe Press, publisher of poetry chapbooks.
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