Poem: To Be Continued (1)

Confidently ready the blades on your forearms, guardian soldier,

hold them up as a dangerous defense, they’re like you I guess

except you sometimes gotta shoot kids, which is not your fault

we both know, it just seems like they don’t pay you enough

to gamble with your life the way you do in the increasingly violent sectarian skirmishes

that just overtook the apartment building that is your life and you couldn’t

save anything, doesn’t it?

 

I guess I’m just saying it’s impossible that I’ll feel

completely calm in my position, most of the time, but I think it’s possible

that some of you will be called upon to make a choice which goes against the spirit

of everything you believe, or thought you would accept if given

the world on a string in a box.

 

What if heaven starts like a sun rainbow,

and ends like a head-heavy rocket fart?

 

What do we do then except ask

to join the purgatory that exists on earth, as we’ve all been dead many times

before, but we keep coming back.

 

Heaven is empty

of permanent civilian citizens living year-round, mostly

because spirits come to know how valuable pain can be, and they keep

going back over and over again, just hoping against hope it will be better

this time, and it always is, inevitably.

 

This way the spirits came to view pain and pleasure

very differently than we do, or you do, I forget who was

talking about the way there are spirits addicted to heaven

but their aren’t, or maybe there are.

 

This one time a spirit came back and said he’d had a great life

this time, as he’d been devoted to exquisite beauty flowing passion

pores through him with the breath of life, and he said it was so beautiful

he didn’t notice that reality was slipping from him, until psychosis took hold

making him murder seven people and hold his wife hostage until through a megaphone

she tore his life from hers, and he blew his brains out.

 

The murderers soul lay in limbo for a time, stretching its mind

out as far as it could go, seeing the experiences of all people in all times

simultaneously, until it could see the justice of it, the fact that there is

no justice, and never could be.

Poem: To Be Continued (1)

Poem: Apocalypse

Shit

is was and will forever remain

fucked up, man seriously, all the airheads

blather in their sunken barges, the worst, most evil

seduction cast over the world like a zombie

apocalypse manifest, written

down.

Not a manifesto but a plan

of action written next to the numbers on maps

with colors and shapes, it will describe what’s about to happen

where there is no hero, probably, so things appear

as you scale it over again.

Don’t

underestimate yourself

this time, or you could reconsider your position

terminated with extreme prejudice, like misogyny of course

if the charge justified, you can war in your way

while standing alone

can’t.

So allies called respond

with a flash, separating heads into fading shapes

rotating slow, or so I wish, all we get is bullhorn honking

the return of what lingers, echoing from evil mirror

tactics, we aren’t innocent.

None

is the solution we come upon

feasible functioning, or farcically felonious for us all

open prostrate, catalog of orders immoral, Randian Objectivism

is the key potentially now, as what’s to gain drunken

permanently watching the door

lock.

Poem: Apocalypse

Poem: Mice and Men

“Transform,” said the old man in the boat

forever unsatisfied, he voyaged a venture

without end, staring blankness at itself, pondering

mysteries infinitely varied, reaching solutions

invisibly weightless, he studied all his life to learn

idioms are disguises, nothing more, like words

unearth odium daily, feelings blinding reason

preserve themselves in amber, “transform.”

 

His hair was reedy charcoal, his eyes were dreary

sunsets cloudless, he wondered aloud to himself

what he would become, bear flamingo and aardvark

were all possibilities, answers to the question

unknown material cipher, the solution at hand

hammer pulling and raised, “On the count of three”

he said to his dead relatives, “One” then “two”

before stopping to stare, at nothing plainly.

 

He sighed and sat back, erect by his elbows

planted in wooden boat bottom, the barrel snug

under his jaw, “three” was the call through tears

bloody thick mist, click arise from a catch

without gunpowder, struggle the fist sharp

through his thigh, cool it from there say “tomorrow”

grabbing the oars, spit over the side, pause

knowing there’s nothing, no promises kept.

Poem: Mice and Men

Movie Review: Superman 2 (1980)

Superman 2 (1980)

Director: Richard Lester

Writer: Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel (Character created by) Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman (screenplay)

Actors: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp

Available on Netflix

Superman 2 is in every way I can think of, the best superhero movie that has ever been made.  I hold this to be true despite the frankly paleolithic special effects, the lack of emotional depth, and the hokeyness of the screenplay, because it is fun.  This movie is so fun that when Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his dim-witted henchman Otis (Ned Beatty) escape from their cell using impossibly sophisticated holographic technology, they are lifted from the prison yard in a hot air balloon.  This is plainly ridiculous and fitfully hilarious, yet what is most exemplary about this scene and the movie as a whole is the way that despite the sometimes farcical nature of the events depicted, they are never boring.

This favorite childhood comic book of a movie opens on the trial of the three Kryptonians who will become this movie’s central villains: Non (Jack O’Hallaran), Ursua (Sarah Douglas), and one of the most iconic super villains in movie history, General Zod (Terrence Stamp).  They are banished to float through space forever, imprisoned in a constantly spinning pane of glass.  There is never any explanation of what this prison is exactly, nor why the shockwave created by a French terrorist’s bomb that Superman hurled into space (a long stupid story) frees them from it, but it is this freedom of narrative that is Superman 2’s greatest asset.

In an era where superhero movies seem to get darker every year, Superman 2 is a joy to behold, as are all performances of the movie’s somewhat ham-fisted screenplay.  Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor is completely goofy, wearing brightly-colored oversized suits as he talks about his disdain for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Hackman’s Luthor more than twice refers to himself as “the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known.”  While I don’t believe that a great criminal mastermind would go around telling everybody about it, the comic relief  Hackman delivers is the perfect counterpoint to the romance of Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

As the movie begins, Clark pines after Lois from afar, even when the two are sent in disguise as newlyweds to investigate tourism scams at Niagara Falls.  Kidder and Reeve do a splendid job of convincing the audience that their attraction is mutual, and when Clark finally admits that he is Superman, Ms. Lane’s eyes swoon with an unbridled desire.  Seeing Superman and Lois Lane lay next to each other in their marital bed (presumably) having consummated their feelings, the fifteen-year-old boy in everyone jumps for joy.  Joy is the word that first leaps to mind considering Superman 2, as it imbues every frame with childlike laughter.

Unknown-11.jpeg

Movie Review: Superman 2 (1980)

Poem: Beacon

Hollow artifice, ironically surrendering, seriously

stationing paper doll houses, slinkily pointed snakebite

venom of eternity, puncturing the platitudinous

anchors chaining patriarchy, stone faces, mountain hollows

frakked for gold and frankincense, under the glower

cloudless blue forever, until it burns to see

what’s being done, that it is nothing until tomorrow

tornado sharks raining, spin one eighty

jesus christ it’s almost here, unstoppable endings.

 

Fear the fathomless hope, haunting dreams

whistling horror head holes, wicked banalities

whisper “never” sweetly, to be ignored

forever, fight with a smiling fist, into the mirror

frowning falsehoods, discover the dawn break

exterior startling, feelings dazzle the drunken

heart breakers, flash the bro faces blind

stumbling over footstools, existing as a hurricane

lighthouse unmoving, point the way to the soul.

Poem: Beacon

Film Review: A Bittersweet Life

A Bittersweet Life (2005)

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writer: Jee-woon Kim

Actors: Byung-hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheoi Kim

I’ve been a fan of Jee-Woon Kim (The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (2008), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), I Saw the Devil (2010)) for years, because his frames all seem packed to the brim with beauty, action, and tense emotion.  It wasn’t until recently that I watched A Bittersweet Life (2005), Kim’s dark and gorgeous gangster tragedy, and I think it’s the best thing he’s ever done.  Kim here takes a more-or-less standard revenge plot and without tinkering with its mechanics too much, creates a spectacular and punishing journey, one filled with elegantly staged action scenes and a breathtaking color palette.

The film opens on Byung-Hun Lee stalking down a gorgeous, severely lit hallway, wearing a face made for business.  Lee’s performance is masterful, revealing his character as a master of all things deadly, coming to hate his world and everything it stands for.  This character, Sun-woo, opens the movie dripping with panache.  His gaze, which is like steel yet unaccountably soft, betrays a seemingly impossible level of expertise.  He dispatches foes quickly, barely breaking a sweat.  What makes Byung-Hun’s performance remarkable and acutely emotional is the fear in his eyes, and the way that this fear is proven to be truly justified.

Sun-woo’s fear is proven necessary as throughout the film he is beaten, stabbed, hung by his wrists, buried alive, and shot repeatedly.  All of this happens in some of the most captivating and visually enthralling action sequences I’ve ever seen.  The film’s director, Jee-Woon Kim has a gift for finding ways to make what could be simply brutal and horrifying, and using his flair to create entrancing visual details.  One of these scenes, in which Sun-woo fends off a gang of toughs with a flaming two-by-four that explodes in sparks every time it hits someone is impossible to forget (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imqiuSOYVzs).  This sequence alone is so masterful it could deserve its own essay, delving into its use of motion and rhythm, but the film is full of scenes that match it.

All of this visual artistry and intense excitement would mean nothing, of course, if the performances weren’t all as exemplary as they are.  Min-a Shin, as the films only female role, embodies her character with hopeless depression, and Oh Dai-su, as the central villain’s main henchman, brings truly pitiless, smiling sadism to his part.  Both of these performances are exceptional, but it is Yeong-cheoi Kim, as the film’s true central villain, that brings emotionless, typical evil into his character.  Watching his dead eyes as he stands over his victim is truly chilling  All of these spectacular and horrifying elements make A Bittersweet Life the best action film of a decade or more, and one not to be missed.

A_Bittersweet_Life_Soundtrack.jpg

Film Review: A Bittersweet Life

Poem: History

Motherfucking cocksuckers on a rusty rocket plunger

up their asses, idiots and moral making laboratory rat

scrabble under the floorboards, the bosses know that

they’ve no heart left, for anyone but a pane of glass,

curved brightly magnanimous, wolves are surrounding

in my head, but I can still crack it with a smile.

 

First stop watching the world erupt, slow movement

as no moment, is or ever was, escape into angst

captured comedy, filing papers filed with lying lives

filling misogyny hegemony, trapped in a corner

lashing out at the roots, pointless paper trails

infinitely manacled, but pop a can with your feet up.

Poem: History