Look at what a poem this scene from Down by Law is--as a work of fiction but also as a kind of event that happens in real life among real people. A half-hearted tinkering--the card game, Waits' and Lurie's taunts and Benigni's persistent attempts to communicate--this tinkering against hopelessness and misunderstanding erupts, improbably, into song, which is momentary understanding and freedom. The song spreads, a ripple effect through the prison. A mini-riot. You know it's a good poem if some guard tells you to quiet down, even if the guard is just a voice in your head.