Poem: The Future

At bottom is a gulf between, each and every

soul bent apart, twisted pygmy, reading eyelids

inner night vision, grasping hopeless horror

overlong listing in slumber, bored building blocks

bastardize violence, besmirch baritone drawls

deeply resonant, like a tuning

fork in the throat, bleeding us empty, helpless

plaintiff stemming with chopsticks, humanity falls away

in modern times, naught to be done.

 

OR, the holy 2-letter bite size

spit bubble, opening trapdoor politics with a hammer

sickle and sinister thought, rising tides horizon

settling a score as old as time, versus confusion

fakery, swat the flies, kill the beasts, trample the protestors

on the capitol steps, as do what thou wilt

is the only law, if you can afford it, that is

factual forces farm, blood fertilizing the soil

with souls of sinners, we will dance, hopefully.

Poem: The Future

Review: In a Valley of Violence

In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West

Actors: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga

 

In its own harsh, uncompromising manner, In a Valley of Violence scoffs in the face of well-wrought western tropes, and comes away with a delightfully intense bloodbath.  I can say unreservedly that I am a fan of westerns, from the meticulous Italian chaos of Sergio Corbucci’s Companñeros to the somber philosophy of Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country, I love the western genre.  As is obvious from the opening titles which closely imitate the opening credits of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, director Ti West (The House of the Devil) loves it too.  His love of  westerns is most obviously displayed by his eagerness to subvert the genre’s tropes, which he does here by injecting characters with weakness, stupidity, and more than a little comedy.  This comedy most often comes from the committed and somewhat silly performance of a masterful John Travolta (Swordfish, Battlefield Earth, Scientology), who portrays tobacco chewing bravado while his character becomes a strange alternate protagonist.

The story’s central hero is Paul, Ethan Hawkes’ mysterious drifter traveling alone with a dog.  Paul and his strangely intelligent companion, Addie, are linked via an almost supernatural connection.  These travel companions make an ill-fated pit stop in Denton, a town terrorized by the son of the local sheriff (James Ransome), who practices wanton cruelty with impunity.  This character, Deputy Gilly Martin is perturbed when newcomer Paul (Ethan Hawke), fails to respond quickly to his inquiries.  This simple perceived slight leads to a chain reaction of escalations, culminating in a climactic death that is both ludicrous and metaphorically perfect.  The unstoppable expansion and eruption of violence is so reasonless, yet so inevitable, that In a Valley of Violence could be said to make a permanently timely statement about the ease and cost of killing.

These are pretty heavy issues, however, and they might weigh down a movie as violent as this one, but it is saved by the aforementioned Mr. Travolta, playing the sweetest Marshal ever.  Travolta’s character is kind, reasonable, merciful, and hilarious.  Marshal Clyde Martin (Travolta) has one fatal flaw, however, his love for his son.  As terrible as Gilly had become, he was still the Marshal’s son, and family trumps everything.  I think that this, in many ways, is the central conceit of In the Valley of Violence.  That even the most positive emotional reflexes, like a father’s love for his son or a drifter’s love of his dog, can lead to copious bloodshed.

Westerns can be intense, savage, and unapologetically brutal, but they can also be funny, touching, and philosophical.  In the Valley of Violence can do all of these things, but it is one thing above all, a kick-ass western.  The music is dramatic and propulsive; shrieking with energetic violins that sound like stabbing.  The performances are all exemplary, particularly Taissa Farmiga, who brings a mad spirit to the role of Mary-Anne, charming with every nervous giggle.  This is a western of surprising depth and fantastic production, but what really leaves an impression is the sheer fun of it.

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Review: In a Valley of Violence

Poem: After the Bombs

On my back is a pack, a flavored rucksack

holding pictures of the past,

canned food and your signature, saying “I’ll see you

again someday,” but it doesn’t matter

much anymore, for the earth is fire,

poison and knives, not one of us is

safe even for a moment

anymore, but I promise you

and my descendants,

that after this is over, I will carry

your heart in mine again, for war cannot kill

the realities of the world, love in desolation

still shining like it’s colorized.

 

Sickly seeming serpents abroad, slivering, simply

viscous venomous virus, magnetlike a drop

of bloody sweat, among aphids

on a grave, jockeying for position

ahead the new world

order, we live in blood

raining like the sky, red sweeping down

Poem: After the Bombs

Poem: Survive

Brain storming idea flood, dropping in parts

perpetual dead eyed ubiquity, an albatross haze

chaining strangled instruction, interior chambers a-choking

hazard, pointed lavish amplitudes, scraping voice

rasping mutinous revision, mockery infused with petty

predestined inquisition, critical disquietude

formally veracious, pointlessly hilarious

sociopathic harmony, the world is but reason and death.

 

Fearsome future, fumbles at the goal

line segment, solitary abundance is a master

key molding missionary, Unbolt Kaiser the third

succession line straggler, pulling to pieces

protective parlances, demonic pandemonium

punch bowl poisons, guzzle gallons persisting

painfully oppressive, fritter away days of night

backhand parlor gaming, see the other side.

Poem: Survive

Poem: Brutality

Tapestry of stories blood spattered, full of sex

and acid raindrops on the pavement, the universe imagining shadows

under streetlights, walking and whispering whimpers with their legs

reaching all the way up, hepatitis waiting

way over the horizon for each the same, how far is up to her

in this day and age unless things go very wrong it’s forever

for everyone involved, though a rapist would deserve a fiery hell

burning from the inside out, loud and bright for everyone

to feel indifferent to their nearness, his children would piss on his grave

before they commit suicide, paint a note on the wall in blood

while you die slow and alone, making for good copy

say the editors once more, crying aloud again

again and again, once more on the anniversary

party is a shadow hanging still, acting as a blindfold would

from the fires of the future, savagery emerges

smelling of bath salts, cardamum and a callous heart.

Poem: Brutality

Poem: Utopia

What kind of revolution lands with a plop, not a passionate

caucus of like minds, but the righteous ho hum

of the revelry, twiddle stash and his minions ruling

with an upturned eyebrow and a question mark, expecting all

but you to know the answer, while none are ever.

to speak it, for reality is a sense of burning tires.

 

It deposits its waste on the regular, spilling out over

the news every day, concluding hopeless tid bits

and ball scratching posers, for misery is a business too,

like all other things, working a neverending

cycle of tragedy, four digits dead is a jackpot.

 

Twenty-four hour coverage of the great sense

deadening, somehow survival has become a sport,

on the horrorshow, in and of the horrorshow

also, come to think of it, seems like it’ll be on the news

apocalyptic finality, but Bachelor in Paradise is on.

Poem: Utopia

Poem: Straight Horizontal

The horizon isn’t

a line to crest and plunge, beckoning the darkness

to die and summon the sun, only an expression

of passage ticking forward, holding still your eyes

on it is a good way to forget that you’re dying, but yours will come

when the pupils mold over, and you won’t hear a bell.

 

See the future in your shadow, through the past raining

down in streaks, for to live is to die every day

beginning an end, tombstone maternity wards

build deathmatch nurseries, for the world is inescapable

horrorshow systematics, naught is to be done

but draw the shutters.

 

But buck up, chucklefucks, for love is real

whether or not it matters.  You can believe your own lies,

so sing them in songs that rhyme.

Poem: Straight Horizontal