NaPoWriMo 9: “I’m the plot, babe, and don’t you forget it”

Smoky big-haired replicant femme-fatale from the future!

Still catching up, so here’s my Noir poem for day 9.

I actually found an IMDB list of the Top 100 Film Noir and then created a poem using only (mostly, give or take a few joining words) their titles – so it’s a found poem which, because of the diction of Noir titles, feels very noir-ish, of course.

AND, as I failed to write a cinquain for day 5 (I went ‘off-piste’ that day), I’ve written it in three cinquain-ish stanzas! Take that, NaPoWriMo: defecit catch-up prompt-fusion!

Sifting through the Noir titles, it strikes you how fearful they sound of the feminine, of male-female romance: so the poem ends up being a little bit about that femme fatale figure.

Although on the other hand, as Margaret Atwood wrote in Unpopular Gals (a first-person story on behalf of ‘wicked women’ in fairy talesfrom the collection Good Bones and Simple Murders: “I’m the plot, babe, and don’t you forget it.”

 

Killer’s Kiss

 

Pickup

on South Street, caught,

now in a lonely place:

the desperate hours are a stray dog,

Laura.

 

This gun

(raw deal) for hire:

a nightmare alley is

the narrow margin’s kiss of death,

Gilda.

 

Your scar-

face: kiss me dead-

ly, boomerang wrong-man.

I, the woman in the window,

confess.

Little Shadows

How a bee might see a flower – except, not really, because they *smell shapes* (kind of).

I’m brewing a project – a series  of workshops and performances – around BEES (I always feel I have to capitalise it) for this summer, called BUZZ WORDS (I credit thanks to Mr Ian Billings for assistance with the title).

So, with that in mind I’ve been looking out for bee-related stories, inspiration and reading – and tweeting bee-related excerpts from poems too. (They should show up on my Twitter-widget, bottom right).

One such story was this – the amazing symbiosis and (literally) electrical relationship between flowers and bees: plants can ‘communicate’ with bees how much pollen they have ‘in stock’, by changing their electrical field (excuse my usual mangling of scientific language). But the weird thing is that, from other reading I’m doing, bees don’t see in the same way we do at all – and nor can we really understand their ‘plastic sense of smell’, where – get this – shapes have fragrances. All very synaesthetic, which lends itself hugely to poetry, I reckon…

There’s an inherent impossibility trying to perceive as another animal might – but for me, that’s part of poetry’s job. To enjoy the plasticity of language and our imaginative faculties – which are, to a large extent, uniquely human. So this poem was trying to point towards what ‘being a bee’ might be like, but on human terms. (We don’t have any others, do we?)

The title takes its name from a terribly courtly and gorgeous song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the acoustic version) – so do have a listen (after reading). Just as flowers and bees have a symbiotic relationship, so do bees and humans – but who ends up the ‘shadow’ is still unclear. Hence the conclusion of the poem, perhaps: certainty is always plastic, being is always relative.

 

Little Shadows

 

Imagine that montage moment in the film

noir, where the PI  ranges the city streets,

neon lights lurid and rain-streaked and longing:

thinking thinking thinking about

what it is he doesn’t

yet know.  See it?

 

Imagine that, but now see it POV

and at nine-thousand times multiplicity

and instead of a He, you’re a She and you’re

flying flying flying about

at roof height, just knowing

knowing. OK?

 

Imagine that cutaway shot of a sign

which in the film says

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

all luminous-pink curving

tonguelike, now says:

ASTER X FRIKARTII.

 

That louche flashing purple

PRIVATE SHOW, now reads: SALVIA

NEMEROSA CARADONNA. Yeah?

 

And that raunchy Latin text becomes

a shape that bypasses your eyes

nine-thousand times and becomes the aroma

of everything – literally everything –

you have every wanted

or known. Right?

 

Imagine those nine-thousand

cutaway shots above a bar

of endlessly-pouring holy beer

have become a pendulum, pulling

your entire being with the breeze

of its transcendental scent,

the gravity of its colour. Yes.

 

And imagine that there’s no mystery,

only endless little shadows of yourself shining,

weaving through every single city street,

drinking drinking drinking in

the plastic certainty

of being.