Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Nicole Burdette

Yesterday my friend Patrick introduced me to the wonderful 2001 film Chelsea Walls, directed by Ethan Hawke from a screenplay adapted by Nicole Burdette from her own play (and scored by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy!). It's set in the famous New York City Chelsea Hotel, home to numerous famous artists, writers, and poets for decades. The film is a low-budget, low-key passing in and out of the various persons occupying the hotel at the moment, catching glimpses of their lives, their problems, their relationships, and their art interspersed with the art itself. Probably the most powerful moment is about halfway through, when the character Audrey (played by a young Rosario Dawson) recites a poem directly into the camera and to her boyfriend, overlaid with various images and overlapping its own words. Below is the poem, after which is a YouTube embed of the clip from the movie; and my own poem afterward feels fitting given the poetic context of both the film and the moment represented here.

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I Want

By Nicole Burdette

I want to be a lost poem
in a stranger's coat pocket,
that conveys the importance of you.
To assure you of my desire,
to assure you of dreams.
I want all the possibilities
of you in writing.
I want to give you
your reflection,
I want your eyes on me,
I want to travel to the lightness
with you and stay there,
and I want
everything before you
to follow us like a trail behind me.
I want never
to say goodbye to you,
even on the street corner
or the phone.
I want,
I want so much
I'm breathless.
I want to put my power
into a poem to burn a hole
in your pocket
so I can sew it.
I want my words
to scream through you.
I want the poem
not to mean that much.
And I want
to contradict myself by accident,
and for you
to know what I mean.
I want you to be distant
and for me to feel you close,
I want endless days
when it's day and
nighttime never to end
when it's night.
I want all the seasons
in one day.
I want the sun to set before us
and come up in front of us.
I want water up to our waists
and to be drenched by the rain,
up to our ankles
with holes in our shoes.
I want to think your thoughts
because they're mine.
I want only
what's urgent with you.
I want to get
in the way of the barriers
and I want you to be a tough guy
when you're supposed to,
like you do already.
And I want you to be tender,
like you do already.
And I want us
to have met for a reason
and I want that reason
to be important.
And I want it
to be bigger than us,
I want it to take over us.
I want to forget.
I want to remember us.
And when you say
you love me
I don't want to think
you really mean New York City,
and all the fun
we have in it.
And I want your smile always,
and your grimaces too.
I want your scar on my lips,
and I want your disappointments
in my heart.
I want your strength
in my soul
and I want
your soul in my eyes,
I want to believe
everything you say,
and I do.
And I want you
to tell me what's best
when I don't know.
And when you're lost
I want to find you.
And when you're weary
I want to give you steeples
and cathedral thoughts
and coliseum dreams.
I want to drag you from the darkness
and kneel with you
exhausted with the blinding light
blaring on us,

- - - - - - -

Called Before Poetry's Pilate

A preposition makes a poem
And I haven't the skill.
When the muse directs in
Whispered tones, Comma here, I
Keep the flow unbroken and
With my pen become poetry's
Silent serial killer, hacking and
Slashing until the arteries clot
And refuse even that show of life.

I am the murderer you seek.
Look only in my words, and
You will see, by the nighttime
Deeds of grammatical wickedness,
Of linguistic horrors drenched
In history's judgment, my long guilt.
And before the shearers I will keep a
Silence befitting a torturer of words.
My kingdom is a false and ugly world.

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