Poetry/Prose

You Would Have Been Lions

photo credit: mine

photo credit: mine


Cubs

What can I say?

When I can’t lick you

I know

You would have been lions

My mind is part of nature herself

All twisted and dressed

In cement

And male ambition

My mind is part of that nature too

And it got made up

Still, I want to lick you

Cubs

Both of you

You are still here

You would have been here

You will be here

And yet

You would have been lions

Cubs

Everywhere

Every moment

Every chance

I think of you

You are still here

You would have been here

You will be here

And when you are

I will never let you out of my life

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Poetry/Prose, Sugar Free

Happy Endings

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Usually I need music to write

But I sit in silence tonight

Because something has been pulling me

Like thread

Finally, through the eye of a needle

Just noticed now

After 30-odd years

 

Like an eight year-old girl

Tugging on the hand of a woman almost 40

Tugging her through scenarios

She thought the gods wanted

Tugging and tugging

 

Year after year

And she thought she was older

Past all that

Just living like people do

With ups and downs

And downs and downs

And stories and fodder

For blogs and books

 

Tonight she discovered

This tugging child

Some weird flinch

In her hand

That words in a book

Drew her eyes finally

To look down

In one breathtaking moment

To see

That little fist

Strangling her fingers

 

Yes, tonight was the night

After a particular series of events

That seemed loving

Could have been more loving

Found me in the bathtub

Looking up from a book

Weaving words

Through my mind’s voice

Running films of the past

‘Or my mind’s eyes

 

Dumbfounded

Aware

The girl was right there

Always has been

Tugging at me

Only now

Looking at me

 

Like thousands of yesterdays ago

Playing out

That kermit the frog sweatshirt

Anemic face

Blue, penetrating eyes

Nerves like a rabbit

Distracted, wild

Lost, somehow

Yet stunningly lucid

 

Her hunger for love palpable

Her attention

A warm breeze of empathy

With survival-grade hooks

Save me

She could have said

 

Instead, she smiled

Looking down at an angle

Nowhere

 

Her fist squeezing tighter

Around my hand

 

I wiped my eyes

Collected myself

Asked her some questions

Began to weep some more

 

Oh, you only have two pairs of pants?

She looked down regretting her penchant for truth

 

Who are your friends here?

Well why don’t they talk to you?

What do your parents do?

Oh.

 

All I want to do is adopt her

Tell her I have nice clothes for her

That we can talk every day

When she gets home from school

 

I will make her snacks

She doesn’t have to wait until dinner

Fight over fish sticks

Tuck her importance deeper

Every night

Into her pajama pockets

 

Everybody did their best

It’s not about them, anymore

It’s about us

Now it’s our turn

 

Lucky for her

She has no choice

And neither do I

 

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Art, Poetry/Prose

Weatherman

Photo credit: Flickr, Vivienne Gucwa, "New York City Rain and Wet Sidewalks"

Photo credit: Flickr, Vivienne Gucwa, “New York City Rain and Wet Sidewalks”

Skinny lace lost

This must be the place

We took a look together

And a mirror looked back

He was commenting

But we were deaf

Draped over a book

Craning from a bed

In an adjacent room

He looked at us

Looked through us

Looked at the book

Looked at the wall

We were trying to be alone

Trying so hard that he vanished

I wanted to go for a walk

You wanted to stay indoors

Raining on rear windows

A checkerboard of city night

People’s lives

Vignettes

Slices of drama

The pieces moved

The spattered pavement witnessed

I wanted to go for a walk

You wanted to stay indoors

Weather systems

Sheltered lives

Lives lived

I looked nowhere

Saying somehow

Let’s not argue

Subtle surrender

Skinny lace found

You got the umbrella

Indoor-outdoor

Together

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Movie Reviews

The Science of Sleep

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It’s one of my all-time favorites; one I’ve watched a couple dozen times. Yet I’ve never sat down to write about it.

This film more than most needs an explanation, because everyone I share it with finds it a bit too obscure. So let this veteran talk you through it a bit and maybe when you watch it (again?) you’ll find it makes a bit more sense. Sometimes all we need is for someone to connect the dots, right? Fair enough, because Michael Gondry doesn’t really put them so close together in this one.

At the heart of this story is the fact that Stephane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal) is regularly confusing his dream for waking life. We are often invited into this confusion as well: the movie kicks off with one of many dream sequences, all of which are only set off by the use of brown, cardboard props, abstract scenarios and various degrees of film speed manipulation.

As we experience this, we too get a sense of not quite knowing and are one step closer to the vulnerable position of someone who could live this way, suspended between a dream and reality. We also get a chance to take a unique angle on imagination and how it influences reality, for it truly is a kind of wizard of oz behind both our dreams and real life.

The first scene of the movie has us in a stage made of a brown cardboard counter and backdrop, a screen and a blue curtain. Stephane is hosting a program wherein he’s introducing us to how dreams are made, what goes into them.

Enter the grey reality that Stephane is moving to France to be with his mother, who has persuaded him there with the promise of a job as an artist. He finds out abruptly that she has fixed him up as a glorified calendar editor. Like a turtle recoiling in to a shell, he is further alienated from reality and only propelled further into his dream world by a rusty relationship with the French language.

His office mates look past this and prove highly entertaining forces in his life however, most notably Guy (Alain Chabat). Typically French, they pull no punches in their banter and whiplash-worthy body language. Guy is an incorrigible womanizer who is constantly trying to get Stephane to adopt his take on living in the moment and basically fu^% anything that moves. Stephane’s soft and somewhat confused psyche rebels against Guy yet still allows his input and friendship, as somehow, and strangely enough, it anchors him in reality more than anything else can … as the audience, we find scenes with Guy among the most grounding and entertaining … perfect intermissions dotting the portrayal of Stephane’s abstract, shifting world.

Stephane lives with his mother and she is the landlord of a building where two women live on the other side of his bedroom wall.  Zoe (Emma de Caunes) and Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsburg) make their appearance as they direct a struggling crew to move a piano upstairs into their apartment. Stephane lends a hand and gets it crushed. They offer him hospitality and introductions near the piano. Zoe is notably fashionable while Staphanie dons long, stringy locks and an understated grey sweater. Stephane prefers Zoe. He has overheard that they find their landlord a bitch so he pretends for a good part of the film that he lives elsewhere.

Upon hearing Stephane’s description of meeting the ladies next door, Guy immediately interjects his understanding of “liking the pretty one when the ugly one likes you.” We are bewildered by his ability to write a situation off to this and wonder if Stephane does, too. He does take a liking to the notion of going for Zoe, and yet Guy shows a bit of heart to suggest he not play around with Stephanie.

Over the course of some scenes we realize that Stephane and Stephanie have much more in common. While Stephanie is a wellspring of creativity, understanding and good conversation, Zoe is more like a pretty flower without the mother plant. There is nothing alive between Stephane and Zoe so that never even starts. Guy and Zoe, however, do mingle in moments of subtle hilarity. Stephane finds himself confused … he writes letters in his sleep, runs across the hall naked and slips them under their doorway, unwittingly revealing that he is their neighbor/landlord’s son.

All the while, dream sequences mix with real negotiations at the office as Stephane, like any newly-arrived expat, faces a kaleidoscope of adjustment and disillusionment. His proposal of an artistic ‘disasterology’ calendar series is met by Guy’s muffled laughter and his bosse’s sincere confusion. His dreams reflect frustration, a need to show dominance and overtake the business with his paintings of plane crashes and natural disasters.

His distorted dreamscapes foretell the reality of his mother’s dating life, the unearthing of suppressed feelings about his deceased father and the related tender ‘trust-dance’ interactions with Stephanie. But his real interactions with life, and with her, are choppy at best. He finds himself climbing across windowsills to break into their apartment and is caught. Stephanie kicks him out. It is at about this time that we realize he is emotionally investing in her.

In a particular scene that showcases his waking confusion and quixotic behavior, he rushes into the shared space between their doorways and asks Stephanie to marry him. Stephanie explains that she doesn’t believe in marriage and that she is pretty sure he prefers Zoe. Stephane walks down the stairs, pouting. Their simple argument illuminates a vulnerability that lives in all of us as we try to find courage to express love for someone else in the face of uncertain odds.

Eventually, Stephane’s art is accepted for a calendar series and there happens a party to mark the release. Everyone is there and yet Stephanie won’t respond to Stephane in a way that inspires his security. She in fact flirts with another man and sends Stephane into a panik, which he tries to stave by putting his open mouth under the beer tap. He passes out and is carried home.

At his bedside, Stephanie whispers the reasons he faces such setbacks between them. It’s a reason we don’t have to be so confused to understand. The fears and the ghosts born from juxtaposing dreaming and waking life could be just as well all in our waking imagination.

He continues to push her away until the last moments of the movie, but his actions betray him and he cannot bring himself to leave her apartment. Instead, he climbs up to her loft bed and hides. The end of the movie sees her join him as they drift into a dream sequence featuring a grey horse and cellophane sea that has been a work in progress throughout the film.

The love story in this, while abstract and somewhat messy, is the most realistic portrayal of how two people get together. We all have a resume of things we have been through and are working on. Stephane doesn’t seem to have the option of covering this up, at all. And yet, the match is made.

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