Saturday, April 24, 2010

Poésie Noire

Bits gleaned from atop the powdered rungs
and doll tongues strung upon a braided cord clasped
between folds of frilly frue, you come
in the night wrapped in ermine and brooch
over fetching skirt, and you’re tippled on the putty,
and I’d sure dig it, but not so go and such tomorrow:
your face mashed and snorgled, perfect shroud
of your makeup layer permanently Turinning my pillow slip,
eggs flipped over my frypan and my sizzled sausage
already sorted like two stacks of cordwood
dumped from the truck and claimed right there
by a hungry pair of lumber barons. Then me,
apron in the kitchenette, my eggs on the plate
getting cold while you proof and yodel under my shower hose,
juice from a sliced orange creeping your plate
and sogging up your toast while I expect the sound
of your bus at the corner. I’d climb into a barrel
of slowboil tar and leaf through the complete works
of Jacques Derrida as I wait for the slow dissolve.
Still, I’m no Marlowe and you’re less Dietrich
than I’d have you be, no femme fatale echoing pumps
down the wooden hall outside my office door.
You just came in the night a bit better for wear.
I’ll feed you my eggfry though you’d like the hardboil,
and by light of day I’ll drive you home in my Packard
with benchseat and rear-projection stock footage. 

*               *               *               *
Poésie Noire started out with some free form word associations, basically 
just playing with words. Powdered rungs, doll tongues, braided cord, etc. 
I like the way the phonemes roll around and create some bizarre images. 
By the time we reach ermine, brooch and skirt, there's more of a narrative 
thread appearing. There's a reference to the Shroud of Turin, then eggs. 
Again with the eggs. Eggain. The egg is an image that appears in my poems 
off and on over the years. I've always been a fan of a healthy yolk, not to 
mention the gooey thing that umbilicals the wet to the shell sac. Eggs are 
sensual and reproductive. Eggs are pure. They may have come before the 
chicken, but that hasn't yet been definitively determined. Eggs are a delicious, 
moist and protein-rich snack contained within a crust. The exterior is 
simultaneously fragile and incredibly strong and resilient. If you put a raw 
egg into a vinegar bath and leave it soaking for a few days, all the calcium 
leeches out of the shell, turning it clear as glass and opening the mystery of 
the interior's goings-on. Despite the richness that causes me some belly pain, 
I like Hollandaise sauce drizzled generously over Eggs Benedict. Or omelets. 
When we were kids, my sisters and I were about to enjoy omelets for dinner. 
Bubby brought her plate into the living room and placed it on a chair in order 
to stake her claim. She went back into the kitchen to get her beverage. When 
she returned, she sat on her omelet.

There was an oddly spiritual kung fu movie called Circle of Iron / The Silent Flute
It starred David Carradine as a blind kung fu master / flautist who mentors an 
aspiring martial artist on a quest for knowledge. At one point the "apprentice" 
is crossing a desert wasteland, and he encounters Eli Wallach in oil, trying to 
dissolve away the lower half of his body after numerous vows of chastity had 
failed. The reference to Jacques Derrida is about that deconstruction of one's 
sexuality and mobility.

The rest of the poem is heavily flavored by film noir imagery, and how both 
the poem's speaker and the overnight guest fail to measure up to that ideal. 
On a slightly more optimistic note, the poem concludes with the speaker 
embracing both the film noir ideal and the inherent pretense of the genre 
(and poetry by association?).

First published in 


  1. I already had the munchies, then I read this. I like the picture at the top of your blog. Do you have an entry on your blog 'purpose?' I want to read that next.

  2. Susan, you've ushered me into a new era: my first comment, proof that I'm not the only person who has been here. Thanks!

    The picture is from Boom Island, near downtown Minneapolis. It was taken by a photographer named Storm. I'll give some thought to whether or not there is a 'purpose' to my blog, but for now "Welcome to the fitting room" addresses the fears that served as impetus.