The Aftermath (videopoem)


Watch at Vimeo / Watch on YouTube

(text)
So you tore yourself away
from news of revolution
to stand under an umbrella in the woods
as the trees made rain?

Yes. The news means nothing
if I close my eyes & ears.

But what did you see?
Not the trees & ice around you—no.
But a pressed-down people
righting themselves with a shower
of broken shards, bowed limbs rising,
rising.

Those were incommensurable events.
There was nothing the trees could’ve done
to resist their liberation.

And what did you do
while the forest was shedding
its only copy of itself?

I tried to freeze it
with a pair of cameras,
one for motion,
one for the moment’s immortal soul.

Why didn’t you drop everything
& join in?

* * *

Adapting my ice-storm videos to a pre-existing poem, In the Ice Forest, proved impossible, so instead I tried the ekphrastic approach and wrote a poem in response to the footage — and the experience. For me, it usually happens this way. That link goes to a post at the Moving Poems forum, where I talk a little bit about the making of my first documentary-style videopoem, as well.

The topic of the poem was influenced by discussions at the new online community Writing Our Way Home, which celebrates “writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.” Unfortunately, perhaps, the felt obligation to record things for later sharing or for record keeping distances oneself, prevents one from becoming fully engaged. If someday you see me abandon photography and videography altogether and just stick to writing, that will be the reason.

11 Comments


  1. The metaphor of the thawing forest (trees righting themselves from a load of ice and snow, etc.) and the revolution—Egypt, Tunisia, wherever people power is rearing its head—is a bright use of an objective correlative for the abstract revolution. The persona does not really ignore the news on the rebellions; he finds them among the trees and preserves the moment with a click on his camera (under an umbrella yet!) Poetry.

    As a ekphrasis, it is features an achieved content—the gestalt on the trees being a people righting themselves from bowed limbs. The video did its job of concretizing the experience of liberation.

    More videopoems like this, Dave Bonta! Bravo!

    Reply

  2. A joy to watch. The seeming impossibility of the camera to focus really added to the words. Very well-selected music. The sound of the water and ice drops on the umbrella and ground — wow.

    And what did you do
    while the forest was shedding
    its only copy of itself?

    I’d melt under that question alone.

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Peter. Very glad that all worked for you. Brenda Clews made an interesting suggestion today: that I try reading all or parts of it in a whisper. I’d really like to try that, or perhaps experiment with other kinds of reading (or other readers), but the way the cuts are timed to the reading, I’d have to do the whole thing over, so probably laziness will prevail and it won’t happen.

      Reply

  3. Dave: When you go to investigate the next ice-storm, go all the way — up it a notch or three — like that Poet in Paris who used to walk his pet lobster on a leash. When asked why he did that, he said: “Because it doesn’t bark, and it knows the secrets of the deep!” I mean, go totally naked under your umbrella the next timne, tip-toeing thru the creaking, crashing-down ice cathedral. After all, there is nothing as over-rated as a good fuck, and nothing as under-rated as a good shit.
    GO STEELERS!!!

    Reply

    1. Wouldn’t going all the way also involve ditching the umbrella?

      What are these “Steelers” of which you speak?

      Reply

      1. Yes, you are right. One should ditch the umbrella also. But the image I have of you (as a Poet) walking with an umbrella in the woods to investigate the aftermath of an ice storm, is one of the most poetic I can imagine. Being naked under the umbrella would be even more eccentric and poetic, in a good way.
        It is very quiet in Pittsburgh now, since the Steelers lost. No beeping of car horns, no burning of couches in the streets, no store windows being smashed, no vehicles being overturned by rowdy students…

        Reply

  4. “why didn’t you drop everything / & join in?”

    i love this piece, and that ending is great.

    Reply

  5. The sounds of the forest are a wonderful accompaniment to those pops and pings in the music. Great poem, too.

    Reply

    1. Hey, thanks, man! Yeah, I liked the way they fit together, too. I used a different part of that piece for another videopoem sometime last year, I think.

      Reply

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