Category Archives: Film Series

Untitled *Biopic Poem (Draft)

Video tape is
black under music,
shut out from playing fields,
working behind its plastic window.

Soil segmentations are
aerated by earthworms,
next to pinned
flags of the world.

A cut of Schindler’s List for schools,
shook us behind our desks
in a room with
pencil crayon atlases.

I caught your biopic
by luck, in the cast net of stars,
flicking through satellites, stations,
happy enough without pause
to be embarrassed for them now,

because what a hold our new self-images had,
not yours I noticed, the beyond-wise (or a bit mad)
escaped their young shadows.

The lesson differently pieced together by everyone,
who is ever going to learn the role that
fumbled then crushed dialogue
once played in sweetly stupid
love.

At a paranoid pitch, too,
making molecular
wildness inside
tone-blind to what feelings
seemed to scream.

I passed through an obsolete sleep
into days that test me more,
sure that you were a movie star –

what significance might be best asked of
the miscast stars I dreamt for us,
their celebrity easier
wound back for memory
than innocent as wax torches
held to faces we don’t have.

But I forget the horror of each
awkward hallway
shivering in bones,
bodies jostling for steps on stairs,
and names called to be heard.

I’ve yet to label my working title
in a smudged, thick,
left-handed daub

and almost yours,
wise and tall,
joined up and circled Disney dots to i’s of yours,
remembered only just but like
ice cream in a cone,
clever and kind,
and you would put up with
this nonsense – and more

bursting through in spits

and I remember a bit about
my better double in History.

Movie Geek For Refugees – Reviewing My Unseen DVDs For A Refugee Charity, In A Time of Humanitarian Crisis

This is a pile of DVDs in my living room, most of them unwatched.

IMG_4748

“Movie Geek For Refugees” is an attempt to make something like a charity marathon out of film reviews, in aid of Refugee Action. Regular readers of my work might well note that silliness is never far from intense seriousness in a lot of stuff I seem to do, so while you’ll see me having fun as an amateur film critic finally getting around to viewing a two-column-strong pile of impulse purchased movies, I have seared in my mind what we’ve all seen is going on. People just like us have fled war, torture, indiscriminate violence, persecution and horror only to find that the international community is responding with indifference. People are living in unlivable conditions. Hundreds of unaccompanied children are perhaps the most greatly at risk. Your donations are desperately needed. If you’d like to join me in my fun movie critiquing sideshow at “Movie Geek For Refugees” you can, or just donate towards much-needed work and offer, in these times, a much-needed gesture of your compassion.

Refugee Action homepage.

 

A Manga Artist in Rome

Drawing manga with a kid in Europe.

The child is a breathless
doodler of stories,
and they are speeding cars on a day that
an old man chooses for quiet.

Streams of explanation,
loose sense from Italian,
but his kawaii smiles translate to Japanese.

There’s a new trend for collecting plastic tokens
and cards
for a shouty game,
with a coloured bit to see through;
so the boy has, in a branded carrying pouch, five of these,
and is proud of them.

The artist can only hope it won’t be tasteless tea
that’s poured by young designers,
their worst work on these cards.

He’s happy and relieved that, at least,
the Italian kid
enjoys drawing.

If the artist remembers most art as forgetful,
there are always stories
in which clouds move,
and snow falls in the right shades,
and melts onto the projected screen
and page;

then turns to rain
for the right reasons,
at a recognisable life and pace.

Human violence
and work towards
the lasting good remains,

while there is a fire,
to cook
and speak with,
or to warm
against the embittered, clouded heart.

Good with a pencil
as long as the wind is in his grey hair
(difficult to work with),
Big eyes drawn for smiles,
that shine
on mechanical detail
behind,
giving life.

A cast of Earth’s protectors,
with wonders overturned
on their oversized eyes
to see a quest through,
make habitats into heartlands
and a heavy hunter’s steps light,
in a sky of surprise.

A rising sun asks
families of engineers
knit boisterously by know-how,
to continue human work
for all who try for sleep,
under politician’s and
polluter’s
hangar of night.

What a rising sun asks us –
a creature’s big work
with us,
for himself,
under a leaf
or a child’s umbrella,
balooning-when-he-breathes,
on the summoned travels of
both a cat and a bus.

The Spirit’s instinct,
in this kind of weather,
is to keep charmed loved ones close.

We are not our
heroes,
nor our enemies,
in cartoons.

Smiling, the green crayon disobeys the child’s orders
or listens when
something that isn’t a shape, becomes a face,
then missing,
as if he’s lost a friend,
when the Italian kid scribbles over it.

It is dismaying when a small hand lays that crayon down –
(mischievously labelled with a studio’s name)
it’s waxy eyes at rest
from the effort,
to watch
red, gold and silver robots march
over horizons,
and a pilot to man machine guns
of no consequence,
to black and grey
drone battle.

Instead of a given tree
under an air conditioner,
Saturday morning came for my generation to
watch TV,
it’s colours and cost-cutting backgrounds,
mostly all of them,
just because.

The animator offers a super-deformed smile,
the soft line a wobble
as if an unconvincing Centurion startled a Sister,
her angels guided into turquoise
inside a tattered sketchbook,
her tour on the way to confidence
that once hid
where the shadow of a steeple couldn’t reach.

It might not be too devastating to nod encouragingly
at his new friend
were it possible even in these times
for a young man to luck upon the path
that the determined old man did,
cantankerously,
and for hard work to make unbreakable sense
of story-like visions that, in turn, make
adventures of a career.

Knowing little of the language,
A passer-by or the waiter, asks for the tidy gentleman’s autograph
and, in return,
gets a small doodle of a pig,
spaghetti sauce at imagined corners.

A bicycle thief with a new camera strap,
put pennies in the Trevi Fountain,
throwing suspicion
right over his wrong shoulder;
knowing he must take
to give,

when the fountain forms a mouth for coins
and a body like sea-breeze
that you have lent your face to,
seeming to wink with eyes of hope
for every offering,
however small.

A street musician in the distance;
a child with an accordion,
knocks out a few crowd-pleasing tunes,
before being moved on by Polizia.

A misunderstanding in the air
disturbs the green, white, and red flags,
in Roma,
– high priests –

as two wizards disperse clouds,
dodge balloons and Zeppelins,
to spell out their small disagreements.

One of them is angry;
the other has welcomed his tea
timidly on a cat’s saucer.

The artist tests his famed motor skills
on the engine for a new kind of craft to fly home;
past artless security checks,
for children and their families,
looking for sky and land’s
escape
in the Terminal,
in the integrity of their entertainment.

A hesitant Spirit cameos his uncertain role in the frame.

The child returns to his mother, who smiles.

The tabletop is fixed to what looks like a column.

The distant libretto heard in police sirens
has stopped.

When the bill is settled,
under cents and euros,
despite the wind,

he imagines the Colosseum
as if he built it,
to newly-excavated blueprints, to look like something else.

He has shelves full of books about the world,
for his.

Now he’s here preparing noodles for his colleagues, throughout the night,
inbetweening,

the way
paint can turn
street light into
what father and son understand
of the day.

Going Rick and Ilsa

“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.”

– Rick, Casablanca, 1942

See – I wear a raincoat to avoid my own drenching.
I’m not a good man
but there’s still
a feather for the candle’s licking flame,
a dabbing motion of acrylic,
loaded on the bough of a brush,
to give light to an eye.

But inside the mountain,
as cold as mythical igloos,
the scorched skin of hypothermia goes about
losing toes;
severed beans,
gone Arctic.

Our minds are now in Paris,
singing with ex-pats,
sharing gin,
going Rick and Ilsa,
somewhere

(What would Rick and Ilsa be
to a friendless Café-dwelling poet
trying too hard, spineless and rude,
who couldn’t mind his own damn business?)

Watch me try to amount to a hill of beans,
and while there is space left between the beats of pulses,
you and I are learning
every time the gardener’s song
trails off…

into a question…

“What would be kinder
for the sun to look upon,
in these times:
the quicksand of the mind,
the war, and wars ahead,
a runway,
or, perhaps, the Seine?”

Write your Answer:

 

Because we’ll
save this aimless feature
of landscape in a photograph;
carefully framed, because
each one has lungs, the same size as their bodies
and can’t hold their breaths for long
before boiling.

They are beans.

Watch me become a hill of beans,
it’s been a long time, I grant you.
But freight trains are exporting
confusing cargo,
bean by bean.

The mountain and the sky aloft
and the yellow-bellied peas,
the scream that extinguishes a stove
and miles below sea,
the gasping hill of beans,
that ask to be kept
prickly in your scarf,
elevated on a slice of toast,

warm and dry
for your kindness.

Alphabet soup spells trouble to a witch,
who had dreams, and woke with a pearl-string of her beads
around her neck, the imagination
she goes to bed with
only loose fitting clothing,
and shoes filled by a radiator leak.

Because she
sorts randomly canned letters
into prophecy.

On our camping-trip,
in our twenties,
we had the shadow of an elephant
amounting to
what we hoped would be a molehill.

Watch me hope for a hill of beans,
without which I’d be the proprietor of a bar,
I’d be in black,
in white,
seeing like a dog,
identifying each passing trope of Film Noir.

With a friendly tongue
but teeth in a jar,
in gin-smoked interiors
before you chanced into mine.

I sat against white walls,
poured liquor into breakfasts.
I knew you would
remember laughing at time slowed by
like a mosquito, a bar fly, does
before being swatted.

Since you’re here we could spend time counting
any beans left,
between the currency of kisses.

It’s something we hope everyone can afford,
even though we know that’s not true,

Hope, for a hill of beans.

Watch me give desperate hope to those who scratch for it, what remains
of a miserly measure,
which is at best a lens to watch
rocks beat against the tide,
for once,
for once, Ilsa,
but they, we, can’t.

And those who know it,
live on black-and-white film stock,
with street-smarts,
twin-prop airplanes
and the song Sam plays
for himself.

Old Octopus

Part of a Series of Poems about Films, and After the Film “Oldboy” (2003)

A mosaic of things to compose your halo,
an octopus on a plate
in parts,
under a sun
that is secretly Gaudí’s Greek cousin,
fashionably late to the celebration,
amid whispers of his maddening.

Bow-legged and troubled from recycling breath,
and television in the same box,
sleeping the entire room.

You wonder how the creator of this scheme
got away with it,
you wonder how it stays up,
about the lizards that the design can support.

In a frame of mind,
Gaudí, like Walt Disney, doesn’t belong,
and I can’t convince you of a different film;
I only have six arms and
two legs,
cut with a cared-for blade.

But the Sagrada Famílias are popping up like mushrooms
to dress the set,
the unfinished and sunny salad,
where tomatoes blaze alight.

The table,
first refracted by as much water
as wild hair that streams before your eyes
– that river is just the flow of days,
and you wake up in a different style,
sometimes enough for tears –
every morning

a fraction of that sea;
in your glass,
or glasses,

like the light,
that extends many running legs
on vivid grass,
and wide arms.

Old Boy,
of the movie,
I know
we can change the seas
in front of our world’s noses.

I know your angry
taste for octopus
is matched by your furious
memory of living,

and it’s not good to be an octopus sandwich
post-Moses,
a two parter.

I would like to
share a smile with a stranger,
more not knowing what to do when our overrated
paths cross
before this squid ink becomes
a leaking biro to stain a jean pocket.

And roll the squid
into contortions
of sushi,
in the House,
its heritage staircase,
when square topiaries are rooted outside by volunteer angels
and gardeners, behind us,
where we didn’t
miss each other.

All the inter-city passengers turned to comparisons with jelly,
watching things pass downwards
slowed inwards by fear.

The giant octopus,
could take the yellow bus for a petal,
wave it around a bit,
wonder what you are
as your body slides
from one traveller to another,
in the joy of being safe and alive,
passing through ghosts
collecting pocket change and
puzzle books
to the sound of my
trying-to-be-kind.

The problematical Enigma machine of sums
for the mathematician I’m not.
Adverse to cutting the wires of a bomb
though he must;
apparently the blue.

The machine
that in a spot of frustration,
the American Ensign says is “busted”,
under sea level,
with the last double bass player on a cruise ship
not to float.

Curl a cup around my suckers,
to drink the bitter saltwater,
and I just might be the spirit of an octopus,
and just as envious of a wash-cloth.

I can just imagine a chorus line of
us octopuses
high-kicking in a Studio System musical,
but useless in our hallway,
where we hang up our coats.

These are the notes, that the angels,
have me writing in margins
of a remake’s screenplay:

before I say something like “Rosebud”, or perhaps “donut”
there is never anything wrong with a donut,
as a reward
instead of an octopuses’ punishment for being alive,
instead of food that won’t go quietly.