is she real, or movie-real.
How do you save your heroine
who is doomed—
never see her again,
nor remember the name
of the song.
but a tune
for her to hum.
Do not write her name
on your lips.
There is nothing left to prove.
She loves the winter rain.
She will move across the screen
in between the commercials
of your life—that true refrain.
SCENE FROM A MOVIE: A VOYEURISM
It doesn’t mean she didn’t think about it—
walking home with the stranger who
had shared an hour with her in the
coffee shop—two casual moments—
sharing time—and that it was cold,
and had been raining—only an
interesting detail of the story—
he was so courteous, a little bit sad,
and she was restless, with a sadness
of her own, and their voices
intermingled in the clear night air,
their slow footsteps sounding
in unison on the wet sidewalk,
and at the corner he held her elbow
as she stepped down, and she looked
at him sideways, and you could almost
read her thoughts, and her smile
was the smile of someone who had
made a careful decision, and they said
goodnight, and there was no ending.
SEEING THE MOVIE TWICE
She slapped me. She slapped me on
my stinging face. Face of rage. Face
of weeping. Face of denial. She said
I lied, and she slapped me.
FROM THE TRAVELS
Faded signs would never name the towns. It always
rained, and there was no one to give directions. The
sole café was sad—like in the movies—or in the
A child always stood in the road behind us, bouncing
a red ball in the shadows between the few thin trees
that stretched toward each other across the lane.
A woman always appeared in an open doorway,
watching us leave.
(first pub. in Parting Gifts, Winter 1998-99)
SESTINA FOR CHARLES BOYER
I don’t pretend to know those words in French—
I’ll not pronounce them here, I don’t know how,
but I still love the sound of them—the way
they charm the voice and titillate the ear,
so sensual against the listened mind,
romantic and believable as love.
And I have always been in love with love.
I loved a movie star once. He was French.
For years he held the heartstrings to my mind,
an adolescent misfit, learning how
to suffer love in secret, with an ear
for tragic love, for drama’s tragic way.
When talking to myself, the slowest way
home from the movie’s dark, and sad with love,
imagining his voice thrilling my ear…
imagining him saying things in French…
imagining him adoring me—of how
he would discover me…I filled my mind…
And I was leading lady in my mind.
Of Mayerling; I almost lost the way
to treasure life—oh, I can say it now:
the fatal sacrifice…ill-fated love…
their suicide, so gloomy, and in French…
tense background music building in my ear…
romantic nonsense? I turned my deaf ear
to that—I knew my inner mind,
but never knew of kisses that were French,
or opportune seductions in the way
infatuations take the place of love.
I simply loved, no one could tell me now.
But I was shy—it would not matter how
I make-believed—it was for my own ear,
those lines that spoke my passion-stricken love
with eloquence known only in my mind.
That maudlin tragedy has gone its way
but I still spark to accent that is French.
How did I hold so long, in this old mind,
that ear of remembrance, haloing the way
love was a movie star—so sad—so French.
(first pub. in The Poet’s Guild, November/December 1996)
In the dark are other darks—luminous
and round—hollow and deep— ringed
with full moons and the echo of dogs.
The lure of late movies on TV.
The sleep of no sleep.
All the ache and buzz of night thoughts.
The turning of time
which is desolate and round
on its one-way clock.
The repetition and persistence
of the days. The whistle that
will not reach to hush the barking.
And the other who is not asleep in
the house but roams about in the
gradual under-sound of other sound,
well past the October midnight
which is still summer—
well past all that is empty and unfound.
And it was snowing
in the blue window lit by
candlelight, soft and
directionless, but in a slow
flurry, and it was late,
past second chances,
something to add to
what was left unfinished
or never begun.
Was it real snow,
or wishful illusion.
allowed their secrets.
Movies and life
are much alike, but for
and turns of expectation.
MOVIE REVIEW: DON JUAN DEMARCO
(Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, Faye Dunaway)
Don Juan sits down at the table with the pretty girl
who is waiting for her date to arrive. He strokes
her fingers, telling her which parts of her hand
are erotic to his mind. His mask and costume
are not out of place here. His intensity is real—
as is his momentary love for her.
She, of course, surrenders in less time than it
takes to tell of this, and of course we leave out
the details. After, Don Juan thanks her and leaves.
Her escort walks up just then and Don Juan
wafts through the crowded room in a flourish
Now he’s on the roof of his suicide, waiting for
his worthy opponent to accept his challenge—
but it’s famed psychiatrist Marlon Brando
who comes up the side of the wall instead and
says he believes who Don Juan says he is.
They will change each other—or will they?
(in the course of analysis)
Don Juan will remain Don Juan, no matter who
the world says he is, and Marlon Brando will
retire with his belovéd to a garden in Paradise.
I want bead curtains to hang in my doorway
like those in old movies, tinkling softly
when someone brushes through.
(first pub. in Brevities, October, 2009)