A Score for Tourist Movies

Mary Austin Speaker

 
If music plays with film
then film is an illustration
of music’s movement.
Snap, blast, sever, sever, stop.
Even the dog twitching his ears.

If islands nestle in the ocean,
and a statue rises above the pilgrim,
then we are standing on a cliff
and the pilgrim has reached her goal.
The light is as pale as the back of her hand.

If the dancers twitch arrythmically
their dance is only partly kept.
At twenty-four frames per second,
film makes a lonely memory.
They sway staccato, staggered, stretched.

If drums repeat the pace
of film’s slip through the gate,
then the song’s refrain
retells film’s fades and cutaways.
Even its night-quiet darks.

If horns evoke an antique joy,
lens flares and close-ups send
their renderings into red relief.
How has mankind managed grief?
Light, noise, movement, breath.

If blood is to the body
as film is to the camera,
if film is a flat and lucid eye,
if light is a perishable gift,
then the night is the gate of the dark.

If light falls away with always
then film is a parcel of rest.
Panoramas, linked and strung
as castle-steps, lawns, the fine
iron bars of the castle gate.

If drums pace the beat of blood
and film is the speed of the rattle
of breath, then the dancers have
truly escaped us. We slow
as they quicken. We go and go.
 
Copyright © 2013 by Mary Austin Speaker. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 29, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Further Reading

Poems About Movies
Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)
by A. Van Jordan
After the Movie
by Marie Howe
An American in Hollywood
by Frank Bidart
Au Hasard Balthazar
by Stacy Szymaszek
Ave Maria
by Frank O'Hara
Brad Pitt
by Aaron Smith
Chaplinesque
by Hart Crane
Daffy Duck In Hollywood
by John Ashbery
French Movie
by David Lehman
Heroic Simile
by Robert Hass
Homage to Sharon Stone
by Lynn Emanuel
Old Boy
by A. Van Jordan
On the Waterfront
by B. H. Fairchild
One Shies at the Prospect of Raising Yet Another Defense of Cannibalism
by Josh Bell
To the Film Industry in Crisis
by Frank O'Hara
Trigger Guard
by Joanna Fuhrman
When There Were Ghosts
by Alberto Ríos
Poems about Music
08/22/08
by David Lehman
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
A Violin at Dusk
by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music
by John Dryden
B-Sides from my Idol Tryouts
by Harmony Holiday
Beagle or Something
by April Bernard
Fiddler Jones
by Edgar Lee Masters
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
Go Greyhound
by Bob Hicok
Here and Now
by Stephen Dunn
Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio
by Carl Sandburg
Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness
by John Donne
Hymn to the Night
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Interlude: Still Still
by Robin Behn
Latin & Soul
by Victor Hernández Cruz
Little Fugue
by Marianne Boruch
Lost Fugue for Chet
by Lynda Hull
Lullaby in Blue
by Betsy Sholl
Mozart
by Caroline Knox
Ode to Lil’ Kim in Florence
by Barbara Hamby
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Poem for You
by David Shapiro
Record
by Katrina Vandenberg
Street Music
by Robert Pinsky
The Banjo Player
by Fenton Johnson
The Day Duke Raised: May 24th, 1974
by Quincy Troupe
The Everyday Enchantment of Music
by Mark Strand
The Guitar
by Federico García Lorca
The Last Evening
by Steven Kronen
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
The Supremes
by Mark Jarman
The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walt McDonald
The Weary Blues
by Langston Hughes
The World Doesn’t Want Me Anymore, and It Doesn’t Know It
by Sean Singer
Two Pages, 122 Words on Music and Dance
by John Cage
Untitled
by David Meltzer
Water Music
by Robert Creeley