Monday, June 22, 2015

Poetry Sunday Monday

Since yesterday was Father's Day and I ran my traditional Father's Day post, I've had to bring you Poetry Sunday on the rather untraditional Monday*. It's okay, you'll survive the shock.

French film critics coined the term film noir to describe the dark look and bleak, sinister themes of many World War II era and postwar American movies. Classic noir films include The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity, as well as more modern films like Sin City and, perhaps, Seven. They reflected the tensions and insecurities of the time, and their themes featured fear, mistrust, bleakness, loss of innocence, despair and paranoia. The heroes (or anti-heroes) of noir films aren't always distinguishable from the criminals they fight, and most plots feature a sense of injustice not corrected. Films noir seldom have happy or optimistic endings.

You wouldn't think that the subject would necessarily lend itself to poetry, but it does in this poem by Nicholas Christopher, which weaves many of the stock images of film noir into a short, punchy picture ...

Film Noir
by Nicholas Christopher

The girl on the rooftop stares out
over the city and grips a cold revolver.
Laundry flaps around her in the hot night.
Each streetlight haloes a sinister act.
People are trapped in their beds, dreaming of
the A-bomb and hatching get-rich-quick schemes.
Pickpockets and grifters prowl the streets.
Hit-men stalk informers and crooked cops hide in churches.
Are there no more picket fences and tea parties
in America? Does no one have a birthday anymore?
Even the ballgames are fixed, and the quiz shows.
Airplanes full of widows circle the skyline.
Young couples elope in stolen cars.
All the prostitutes were wronged terribly in childhood.
They wear polka dot skirts, black gloves, and trenchcoats.
Men strut around in boxy suits, fedoras, and palm-tree ties.
They jam into nightclubs or brawl in hotel rooms
while saxophone music drowns out their cries.
The girl in the shadows drops the revolver
and pushes through the laundry to the edge of the roof.
Her eyes are glassy, her hair blows wild.
She looks down at her lover sprawled on the sidewalk
and she screams.
A crowd gathers in a pool of neon.
It starts to rain.

Have a good day. Enjoy a noir film today.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* Or, as Mike would call it, Friday the 13th.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Film noirs set a definite mood of pessimism. How about a hillbilly film noir, like "Thunder Road" or the original "I Walk the Line" starring Gregory Peck?

Mike said...

"Even the ballgames are fixed, and the quiz shows."
This poem has been around awhile.

allenwoodhaven said...

It captures the spirit very well!