I saw that distant look in your eyes
the type that says you are concentrating but not concentrating
on the screen
and I leaned over to say
but You said
it is always the same in these movies
two people meet
they strike an unlikely partnership
it develops an unexpected problem arises
the threat is somehow overcome developing into a final happiness
they are just stories
but you must suspend your disbelief
and You replied there are no such things as belief nor disbelief
the truth of the matter is the stories are all wrong
it is not the plot that carries us
it is the distant gaze
and the absence
the voice subtly breaking
that slight tightening of the grip
these are the real cast the real plotline
without these there is no syntax no punctuation
and we all live in a screenplay of progression and loss
and we all wish we were in the cinema stalls
© Martin Porter 2011
This poem is also posted on the Take Flight Writing in Whangarei blog.
This poem is a hybrid poem. In part it is a dialogue, in part a list poem.
The origin of this poem is complex. It is, in some ways, a Marilyn poem. But it has many other sources, and somehow Marilyn Monroe has dropped out of the poem altogether. Certainly it has its origins in some of my earlier poems: After the Trailers, Callan in Black and White, The Fairy Fellers Master Stroke anr all unpublished and unread but influential. The mood of melancholy that I hope the poem presents can be felt in Cool (Sharks) and Pigeon Fanciers, published in this blog, and many other poems that I have written. The epistemological reflections can be traced back to poems such as Skin, published on the 52/250 A Year of Flash blog. The mysticism and other-worldliness can be found in many poems, including Pasifika Queen Mab on this blog.
But there are other sources on which to reflect. The poem was written shortly after I watched “Lost in Translation”, the Sofia Coppola film that demonstrates disjuncture and bewilderment in a way in which I find all too familiar in the off-screen world. The whole suspension of reality of the cinema (or theatre or opera) based around idealised plots and simplified realities seems to be put under the spotlight in this film, quite the remarkable irony!
The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake is another more conscious source of ideas for this poem. Particularly referenced is the chapter based around Alfred Prunesquallor’s reaction to the death of Fuschia Groan in Gormenghast, a passage I found thirty years ago and still raises the hairs on the back of my neck.
Discussions with the poetry group in Whanagarei have also contributed to the construction of this poem. Particularly influential was a discussion about the role of punctuation in poetry, particularly the capitalisation of words at the start of lines, but also the use of punctuation. Here, I have used capitalisation in an attempt to impose my own structure abd omitted punctuation partially to allow the reader freedom of interpretation, but also to allow an ambiguity in the structure as well as in the language used.