I’ve never understood why summer is officially Dumb Movie Season. In fact, given that most of us do suffer a decline in creativity due to heat, humidity, beer drinking and babes (or guys) in form-revealing outfits, I should think that would make intellectually challenging movies all the more essential. The brain is like a muscle, folks; trite but true.
But then here comes this summer, with the unprecedented box-office success of a nonfiction film, Fahrenheit 9/11, and with others in the offing (I’m especially eager to see The Corporation). The Day After Tomorrow, silly as it seemed from the reviews, evidently got audiences thinking about serious issues (global climate change, corruption in the government). I gather even Spiderman II was unexpectedly engaging. Whatever happened to movies about alien invaders and giant meteors?
So anyway, since Friday is movie night for a lot of folks, and since I don’t have time this morning for an original post, I thought I’d reproduce a couple of old poems relating to the movies. The first describes three shots from an imaginary film noir. This is one of my oldest successful poems; the germ of it is at least twenty years old. Despite the reference to a corrido (Sonoran folk ballad), the piece I have in mind for the soundtrack is modern classical: a tone-poem called Song of Love and Death (Canto de Amor e de Mort) by the Portuguese composer Fernando Lopes-Graca.
The second poem combines two real, public school experiences, so I guess it would fit in the category of “almost nonfiction.” Off-hand, I can’t think of any other movie poems I might’ve written. Does anyone else have any?
I apologize to anyone who has already read these poems (both are included in the manuscript Capturing the Hive, available in PDF form at my personal website). I promise some original content tomorrow, even if it’s just that doggerel I mentioned yesterday. Until then, TGIF y’all.
TRIPTYCH IN NOIR
her jailed lover’s image in the mirror
slowly loses color
like tea poured again & again
from the same leaves
or a cloud of cigarette smoke mixing with the air
beneath the mirror’s mercury lies
the captain lost at sea in some
his waterproof watch still ticks inside his slicker
it’s past 3:00
light from the street lamp
filters through the slats of the blind
outshines the moon:
two sets of stripes that cross at
an oblique angle on the walls & the bed
where she lies staring into the one dark corner
THE HISTORY OF ANIMATION
Twelve hundred kids packed the auditorium
for a high school assembly: a road show
on the history of animation, brought to us
by Pepsi. The punishment for skipping
such mandatory fun was an extra hour
of school. But some wise-ass
Spoiled It For Everybody with
In the middle of the presenter’s
introductory talk, a sudden
outburst of demented giggles
followed by rapid-fire hos & haws,
squeals & peals, belly laughs
going off like depth charges.
The thing about
a laughing box is, once
you get one started, you can’t
shut it up. Propelled
by apprehensive kicks,
it ricocheted from row
to row beneath the seats,
its laugh track whipping around
like a sperm cell’s flagellum
in a Sex Ed film. As the shock
wore off we watched the three
or four minor führers on stage
shrinking into their scowls.
Finally it flew
out–a bright blue
plastic cube–struck the baseboard
with considerable force & died
A long moment of silence.
Then the clapping started, spreading
throughout the hall. Cheers,
whistles. The assistant principal
on his feet, waving his arms
as the applause went on & on.