Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three Angela Khan poems for Andrea Van Cleef to sing

I have a new friend, Angela Khan, who uses chat software. I am getting used to it. We banter about projects, poetry, and philosophy on these little pop-up boxes in the morning.

The other morning, she tells me also is chatting with Andrea Van Cleef.

This is my Northern Italian rocker buddy. I know social media makes it infinitely easier for anybody to be a catalyst, but as an O.C. (Original Catalyst), I still pride myself in connecting people up.

Khan is getting mobbed up in our project Poetry Scores, so I told her Andrea is the one musician who has scored me. I populated our chat box with a link to a demo of his song to my poem "I used to be precocious".

Then, I really got to thinking. Khan had just sent me some of her own poems. My first thought was that they would be fun to sing. So I told her I would post her poems and send the link to Andrea and see if he could come up with some songs.

The Quiet Room
By Angela Khan

Murderous imaginings are suppressed in the light blue room
Confined shadows compress against the break room’s skin
slaloming through the silence, a slavish floor to broom

echoes race but time always wins
down the hallway donning a boyish grin
and stooping yet strong, the figure’s work never ends
sweeping accusations - life's blind custodian
begins to whistle woes unforgivable

in the coded key of Zen

Kind of reads like a Natalie Merchant lyric to me.

Bastille day is today
By Angela Khan

Bastille day is today
ever heard of this celebration?
You think you’re the King; I'm French; pay attention---

Behead thee King and drama Queen
I'm casting thy booty to the sea
your riches nil value and useless to me
Let us chisel this date into your dull memory
Rest your neck upon it's cold nape

Run through your lines just one more time before never
it is too late
to tip me
Learn from the stillness of the stone
and its silence
Even your darkest knights are lame
like your face we've saved from the
wages of slaves

Tails down You lose!
Heads off!
just proves
today is the day Bastille!

I'm melting the molds of victory waxes
paid for with your Icarus' taxes

Hone the blade
then bury the axes
Mark my face with Pheonix' ashes!

I'm writing you off with the ink from your spill
take a hard look what's come from this quill
thank you
thank you
thank you

Today we celebrate my Bastille!
Come to think of it, that also has a touch of early Natalie.

red on red
By Angela Khan

Moving away from or coming towards depending on the wave length in colors and the speed at which I hover contemplating red I pull the covers over my head and the blackbirds aren't birds they were rats in a dream I once had when I was running over past events in my memory bare feet protected by angels didn't cut over bottles broken in an alley careless of the crime motion blurred visions of one time when I hadn't a dime or second to spend running through alleyways in my head it didn't matter much because my feet were tough and I owned no watch on the wrist to say late to the party to tell a story so great about love and loss of no blood and the police breaking rules to give me a lift and wishing me well in this here district why didn't I tell them? that My favorite Italian shoes were in that bag too. And what of the artwork that took a semester to do? Nevermind my faith in humankind and nevermind all of those things once called mine. Nevermind. Nevermind. Nevermind. Back to

contemplating red on red

And that one even has "Italian shoes"! Come on, Van Cleef, you can do something with that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tim McAvin, amateur soldier actor, is holding hostage my shoes

As the King/McAvin shoe hostage crisis enters its second week, I have taken to wearing my dress shoes to work. This situation is getting serious.

It all started on location in Cuba, Missouri, one week ago yesterday. It was our first day of shooting the new Poetry Scores movie, Go South for Animal Index. After a long day down at the creek, shooting our Coyote character (Kyla Webb) trading his moonshine to PFC Sack (Thom Fletcher) for hamburgers and to Badger (Roland Franks) for fresh fish, we moved up to the McPheeters' house.

I had picked out an upstairs porch to shoot the country dance scene. Our movie is based on a poem of the same name by Stefene Russell that is about the atomic bomb. My storyline centers on Lost Almost, as the soldiers called Los Alamos, where the first atomic bomb was invented and tested. The scientists lived a fairly active, if insular, social life when they weren't splitting the atom and weaponizing the resulting energy, and I wanted to reflect this fact with a mad scientist country dance.

Lost Almost was a secret military installation, and since we make silent movies, the best way to make this clear to the viewer is to have armed soldiers present at almost all times. So I asked for our soldier actors (Fletcher, Thomas Crone, Tim McAvin, John Parker) to make this shoot so they could surround the scientists and their wives while they danced.

We were just about to start shooting when I reviewed our soldiers' costumes. Everybody was looking pretty good. Then I looked down at McAvin's shoes. They were brown sneakers. When I asked the soldier actors to costume themselves, I specified black boots for their footwear. Brown sneakers absolutely would not do

Photo by V "Elly" Smith

My fussing about this costume blunder called attention to Tim's shoes. Since I was standing right in front of him, this also called attention to my shoes. Barbara Manzara, who is playing a scientist wife but also had been helpful all day with costumes, pointed out that my shoes - my beloved, lovely shoes - were black. At a glance, which is all the viewer would ever give the shoes of any of our soldiers, they would pass for boots. So Tim and I switched shoes.

Photo by V "Elly" Smith
It turns out we have almost exactly the same sized foot. The show went on, and I am quite certain no one who ever sees our movie will guess that one of the soldiers is wearing beloved, lovely black shoes that are not boots.

Directing a movie all day is a heady, exhausting experience. It takes you out of yourself. I stopped think about my feet or my shoes. By the time I started thinking about my feet or my shoes again, the shoot was over and Tim McAvin was gone from the location, he was absent from Cuba, he was on his way back to St. Louis wearing my beloved, lovely black shoes. I was stuck with the brown sneakers.

I am certain that Tim was able to walk off with, and in, my shoes because they fit so well. Tim and I carry our weight in a remarkably similar fashion. I have a long history of neck and back injuries and am unusually sensitive to how I bear my weight. I wouldn't last an hour in the shoes of a man who carried his weight in a way that felt wrong to me. I am sure my shoes felt right on Tim, because Tim's shoes felt pretty right on me.

They felt pretty right on me for a day or two, that is. Then, they started to feel wrong. The small differences in how we bear our weight and have imprinted our shoes began to become obvious to me. Tim's shoes began to bother me. My back began to ache. I don't really have any other comfortable, casual shoes. I was stuck with Tim's brown sneakers.

So I started to take my shoes - that is, Tim's shoes - off at work. The people who work with me began to object to this, and who could blame them. And so I, a week now into the McAvin/King shoe hostage crisis, I have started to wear my dress shoes to work.

I like my dress shoes. They are perfectly comfortable shoes. But they are not my beloved, lovely black shoes. Those shoes are in the custody of - in effect, being held hostage by - one Tim McAvin. And I want them back!

I have tried to get them back one time. One evening last week, This is where it starts to get suspicious. Oh, sure, Tim said. You can come and get your shoes. No problem. But you'll have to come and get them, he said. He didn't have a car that night. I took down his address. I drove toward his home in South County. As I drew near, to nail down directions to his door, I called Tim.

And, suddenly, there was no Tim on the phone. Suddenly, his phone was doing that thing when the person who has the cell phone plan tells the cell phone company his phone isn't going to be a working phone for awhile. Tim dodged me. Tim is dodging me. Tim is holding my shoes hostage! Tim, bring me back my beloved, lovely shoes!