From the collection Blues Poems selected and edited by Kevin Young
To be honest, I love your awkwardness most.
Not the naughty plumage of your lips
Or the splayed wildcat of your accent
Or the unexploded heartbeat of your paintings,
But your uneasiness in crowds–
How you skirted the edges
And wandered companionless,
Fidgeted and tried to mingle.
What should I tell the torch-bearing mob?
That I longed for you like a lost dog,
Spent an undead winter wondering
What your throat tasted of?
How you sashayed across white-haired sidewalks
Into the end credits of back-projected afternoons?
Or just how your car flashed silver in the sun,
Your voice shot through with radio and slang?
Shit, damn, what does it matter.
I’d settle for some broken piano chords,
For a half-finished B-movie from the 60s
To walk around in.
Then again, you know, I know, forgive me, but
What South Carolina do you dream in whoever’s
What flaming hotels, what French aviators,
What ginger ale?
~ Jeff Fallis
Poems are funny sometimes in how they can strike you one moment, confound or frustrate you the next. Reading through this excellent collection, this poem jumped out and hit a nerve in me. I brought to it, and with it, a background and love of movies, visions of Max Schreck and Klaus Kinski. I thought about all those images of vampires that have come since Stoker — the Bela Lugosi, Anne Rice’s Louis, the Frank Langella, the Anita Blake prey, and now the Edward Cullen — and none of them can shake those black and white German Expressionist shadows, those angled buildings and stilted expressions that treated celluloid like a canvas rather than an entertainment.
This poem holds me until the last two stanzas, when my world crashes into the poet’s. Not that the poet didn’t have a specific object in mind, but as I read I could project into these words and feelings my own sense of what it means to be in thrall of such a creature. At the end the details become too specific for my images to hold and suddenly I feel shut out. And that’s appropriate, because this is not my Nosferatu.
I understand the Poetry Friday roundup is at Brimstone Soup today.