02 October, 2020

A Nostalgic Poem, of Sorts

The Terrible Movie of You

is set in autumn and all at night –
static scenes of two teens talking
in a parked sedan, light
from the lot's sole lamp
cartooning your face Frank Milleresque.

When the window fogs it's not a heart
you finger there but a skull.
It cries real tears
for your heaped black jeans
and a Misfits midriff
dropped to the floorboard.

no one smokes on film except the occasional villain.
You draw your pack like a gun and fire
one up off the dying
ember in your boy's pale hand,
daring fate.

So very melodrama, you and he,
in your dooms complacent.
Even happy, a little bit.

I'm almost sorry I sneaked into this matinee.
The theater's sticky floors gum
my soles and remind
with every step down
and up the aisle
that intermission made me miss
the part at the swimming pool, where
you're white as the moon and
equally inviting – the part when,
while this silvery dreamshow flickers along,
your reflection in the ripples spills
up to touch you, toe to toe,
then disappears
in wavelets.

An echo
in a courtyard,
the pull of razor
across skin.

I return
to the cinematic dark
just in time to see
your eely curls writhing
wetly, as you stare
into the dark
November sky.

* * * * *

The role of biography in poetry can't be denied, but it's the responsibility of the poet to follow where the art leads, rather than stick closely to fact. There's a reason that police reports and news articles are so tedious. Interestingly, even though we think of those forms as being factual, neither one is inherently accurate. Police get things wrong, or simply lie. Journalists miss key details, ignore them, or have their diligent fact-finding obviated by the propaganda machine that is the media. This poem, about a girl I once knew, only flirts with truth – and in so doing, it says something deeply true.

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