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The Actress

So inclined, I could almost make a fuller story out of this poem which itself is a narrative. The subject was an actress and my girl friend. A damn good actress I'll add. The night of the third performance, the big one, her father handed me one of those home video and audio cameras. He asked me to tape it all. I stood in the back of the room which was a downtown art gallery. I had never worked such a machine. But I had already seen the performance twice. I knew the story line. I knew what was pivitol in action and quickly learned how to zoom in, zoom out, and pan. Talk about a Fellini moment, making a movie within a movie within a movie. Here is the poem, and, of course, open to crit.

The Actress

She plays the parts assigned to her in the
dreamscape of the spotlight upon the stage where
the play gets played in the theater next
the theater next where dramatic of action
crystal collects in active verbs
signing the words as she entrances believably,
rhythmically, believably.
She draws on the audience's dark unsaying soul,
the whole of theater's soul she carries up
in her first epiphany
of the forever feminine's whitening woman,
the morning star of Sailor hope,
the resident queen presiding over dreams
and giving the gift of promise to return just as
the curtain implicates her in its folds.
(Then she's gone and daily dramas drag on.)

Then she returns as she said she would,
only now she is masked, wearing the part
of the slumming man's, the darkdoor man's whore,
the one who wants the answering slut bending to
his self-love, his stranger charge, his
unrelieved lust to abase her.
But she who slips away still standing.
(Once again gone while daily the drama drags on.)

And once again she falls into the spotlight in the
stormy night when lips enlarged are red,
and her hair is wildmare black and she is the
life-blood beauty whom half-hearts haunt
who cannot follow the rule she knows
when the beauty rule requires the whole
of the haunted soul who wills to walk with her
in the bright night's distended light
bottoming through the catacomb womb
in true beauty's unkempt measure.
But soon she goes when the haunted show
how they cannot fully fall to her.
(And stilling she's gone when daily dramas drag on.)

Only, somehow she returns when she's become
the wilder woman in the artist girl who is the
self-conversant, self-acting,
selfing sister joy birthing the
greening boys in flowering form she draws
in calligraphy written large
in life weave of honey wine and tendril dream
as too soon she hides inside undrawn regions.
(And gone again while rope and pulley
drag down the daily drama on.)

And the play will come to its final scene
when hers is to initiate the neophyte
into life's unsecured mystery.
How else should she seem but as the
Minoan serpent queen for whom the plain secret
is in the solitary dance, in the wild,
in abandonment, in the
anciently young, circling mandalic,
the hilltop ceremonial where the truth
she decribes is in the storied lives
twining through before and after,
pressing up inside the dramatic now,
as the curtain calls and the players bow
to the audience seeing only seeing her
(just before she's gone and daily dramas drag on).

But now it's time to play real, since,
the actress of whom I speak when the show is
complete will come the way home with me.
We are lovers, you see, and we are friends.
And we will talk of how the part played, of how
she forgot three lines, of how she entered into
the stirred, the illusions up on the stage,
of how it went through the hall, of
how the audience fell inside her spell,
of how ...
But then she will talk herself still,
ready to fall folded to our small home, our
warm home where the damper downs, and the
wood stove rounds the edge of chill
as she settles in the spin of soft sleep
while I hold her from under, and she
burrows into my side as I keep a late watch
on worrisome things watchers will see:

what I didn't tell her as we talked, or while
she released her breath on sleepy air
of the thing I saw at the theater,
when the thing I saw was in the words I heard
when the lawyer said, when the lawyer who is
reputed to make a hundred grand in dollars a year;
and the lawyer talking when the show was ended,
and watching her when the players mingled,
and he being the public's defender,
the community's reasoning, well regarded leader,
who said while keeping his eyes on her,
"I preferred her slut to her other parts."

Just the prayer coming in the gentling, in the
magic coming through words quilting for her:
dearest actress, dear heart's trusting friend,
if the daily in your drama drags you along to where
if ever you must break the still in birdie flight,
never let that one cover your twilight, or cast you
in the dark of his townhouse door.


Last edited by Terreson, Mar/12/2011, 4:14 pm
Sep/5/2010, 6:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
Christine98 Profile
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Re: The Actress

hi Tere,

I read this poem once (so far.) What jumps out is how many facets of the performance there are; and which parts are recognized and remembered by whom.

Makes me wonder if the actress, in her totality, hasn't equally eluded the lawyer's lewd take and the narrator's idealized version.

Well, that's the first impression, the one that struck me hardest. There's so much more to this poem. I think I'll have to come back.


Last edited by Christine98, Sep/6/2010, 2:13 pm
Sep/6/2010, 10:01 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Actress

Chris, you blow me away sometimes. Seriously. You tend not to say much, never beating around the bush, almost always speaking to the point. The middle part of your message about the two takes on the subject still missing the whole of the character is pretty darn incisive. It made me stop. It is all the more poignant given that the actress's character appears on stage herself playing several different roles. Or as if she herself is trying to give the totality. I said upthread this poem could make for a movie within a movie, a story within a story. The only time I knew the woman on whom the character is drawn to be truly happy and at ease with herself was when she was on the stage. The rest of the time when she wasn't unhappy she was tavern crawling, trying to ease her own unease. Maybe the poem looks to give her a portrait of herself at her best.

Ain't life a bunch of monkey jumps. And always the backstory.

Sep/6/2010, 2:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: The Actress

I may come back and comment more at length. Riht now, it reads well. The only comment would be maybe to take out the first stanza, even with all its beautiful, powerful lines. The second stanza seems more raw and hitting at the core of the story immediately.
But this is only an initial impression. Probably more later. Zak
Sep/8/2010, 9:22 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
pjouissance Profile
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Re: The Actress

Hi, Tere,

I understand this poem is finished, so just wanted to let you know I read it for the enjoyment. Thanks for the posting!

Sep/8/2010, 3:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to pjouissance   Send PM to pjouissance
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Actress

Thanks, Zak, for registering your first impression. I get what you mean about the rawness of S2. Not sure, however, there is a stanza that could be removed without upsetting the apple cart.

And sure, Auto. By now all the tweeking that can be done on this one probably has been done. Still, I like to post poems here so as to learn what does and does not work in prep for the next one. With that in mind feel free to say what doesn't work for you. Thanks to you too.

Sep/8/2010, 4:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson

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