‘Til Tuesday

Come evening they sit in the front room–
he with his chamomile and she has her crossword
puzzle on her lap. She swears when she makes a mistake in ink

The phone rings across the room. She coughs.He turns his head once,
but does not get up. She claims that she can tell
it is a telemarketer by the tone

“Is there any beer?”
She continues working on 23 down, not answering.
“Is there any beer?”
“There is no beer.” She writes in the answer.
“Pity.”

The clock strikes 8.
she puts down the puzzle.
“Meet you there?”
“Hmm?”
“Well it is Monday night.”
“So it is. Did you?”
“Yes, of course.”

She stands in the doorway in crimson.
She typically wears only black, but
had promised to always wear his favourite color red on Mondays.
“A new one. Lace?”
“Yes.”

After–
they lie very still, he on his side and she on her back,
smoking. He makes a pretense of coughing.
“Your hair looks like satin in this light.”

“And you look like the boy I met on the train.”
“Was that 1988?”
“You know it was.”
“Best day ever.”
Smoke rings at the ceiling speak of it.

She sits cross-legged on the bed
while he brushes her hair. Every few strokes
he leans forward and speaks directly into her ear, whispering
“I love Mondays.”

“Did you say you bought roses?”
“Red ones, two dozen”
“Where are they?”
“I saw you were home and ran in quickly. They must be in my car.”
She smiles.
“Silly.”

She lies on her side and he on his back. She pushes
a shock of hair off his forehead with a delicate gesture.
He closes his eyes.

“Let’s lay here until Tuesday.”

Her figure

1920s-stockings

He never knew what he had in her
her angle – something
between silk stockings and
late night gas guzzlers
even the police tread easy

That figured –
he was sick and tired of the triangle
the crossed lines every time he called
and she did not answer
feeling her there, listening

‘What do you expect from a woman,’
she’d say, and laugh. ‘Hell, I don’t
even have to pay the light bill anymore.’
His face ashen, for how does a man
be a man – left daily in an airless cube

Wearing a tan trench coat
trying-too-hard
written all over him-
he’d seen Casablanca
once a week for a year after she left-
twice over Christmas

So when she showed up
he wasn’t saying no to anything
let alone stockings, heels
and a black cat-in his haste-
not checking the price tag

With no options – except to run parallel
to her wants needs desires
for he would do nothing to slight her –
this magic in silk and lace

his thoughts somewhere dark and wet
at an adjacent angle to his wallet

Tantalizing Tuesday: Noël Coward, part 2

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Last Tuesday we began looking into the life of Nöel Coward. He was born Nöel Peirce Coward in 1899 in Middlesex, England. His body of work is enormous. He was a playwright, composer, poet, painter, he wrote short stories, he sang, and he acted.

What piqued my interest when I first started watching Coward’s plays and films was the depth of human experience and interaction. There is much within a small space. He would give us a one act play, perhaps 30 minutes long, and manage to punch into it such depth of feeling that one would have expected from a longer piece. For example, in the play and subsequent film,The Astonished Heart, that we discussed in part 1, we follow the characters along a relatively normal scenario. Surely the setting of marriage and cheating on one’s spouse is not new, especially in Film Noir. But just when you are relaxing into this simple story that you have heard before, pow! He lays something devastating upon you, in a quick twist of plot. I am fascinated by this sort of writing. I have dabbled in it myself but not anywhere near what Coward accomplished.

Since poetry is my favourite medium, I was delighted to discover that he also wrote poems. Here is a poem he wrote called “Nothing is Lost”, from his volume entitled Noel Coward Collected Verse :

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.
-Noël Coward

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Lizabeth Scott

too-late-for-tears

“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart.”
-Danny, in Too Late for Tears

In an interview in 1996 Lizabeth Scott said that the film noir roles that she played, often the good girls gone bad, were not written for her, that it was serendipity, due to the popularity of noir at the time. She said, “I fell in love with the lens, and the lens fell in love with me.”

You came along.jpg
Elizabeth Scott, in her first film, You Came Along

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When I watch

stockings

I love watching

you put on your stockings

The way your nails skim over them without snagging is a marvel

When I watch you, I turn sideways

could you change my
preference-

I guess you know.

don’t you.

That is why you don’t stop when he leaves.

I like when you turn your head to look back, saying things like

your hands
your mouth
your toes

then laugh

Tantalizing Tuesday: Anne Baxter

anne-baxter1

Were her characters femme fatales or sociopaths? Were they driven to be devious and contriving or evil manipulators who did not know what they were doing? Who could take a perfectly happy home- loving and creative, hospitable and caring – and turn it upside-down in a matter of months? This lady, that’s who. Here, as Evelyn in Guest of the House she convinces her new husband Dan to go away for awhile so that she can get some quality time with her new brother-in-law.

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Veronica Lake

Veronica lake

Our femme fatale for the week is Veronica Lake. I saw her in Sullivan’s Travels when I was a teenager. I was mesmerized by the way she used her eyes and a characteristic flip of hair that hung over one eye. She had that look. What look? The look to which describing does not do justice.

Here she meets Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels. This banter is a keeper. I always admire a lady that has the guts to tell a man what to do when she has just met him.
“Drink your coffee….”


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Amber (caution)

She came with a set of luggage
3 pieces and a train-case
a Barbie doll, with
all the accessories

Lovely lady with the trimmings
winter holidays
wrapped up in a bow
for that touch
of ostentatious-ness

Every night (every day)
the sound of an alto sax
followed us down dim streets
my hand in the hollow
of her lower back

Squinting to make out the signs
the words (indistinct)
but then (she said)
I really did not try very hard
to read them

My eyes boring into hers
when she would turn her head
waiting for them to light up
like a cat’s
each time a car drove by

Tantalizing Tuesday: Bette Davis, pt. 2

bette.jpg

 

As I have watched Bette Davis, what has impressed me most has been her staying power. There is a point in some actors’ careers where they find themselves unable to go further, due to bad press, pressure to compete with younger actors, perhaps even their own expectations and discouragement with aging. Not Bette Davis. She seemed to get better and better. She changed with the times and with age and its limitations, but she always showed up with class.

In her films post-1940’s there were a few stand-outs for me. As we’ve discussed before, All About Eve was released in 1950 and the subject of aging in Hollywood was approached head-on. Check out this scene with Bette and Gary Merrill. She was called paranoid by those around her- but her instinct was spot on. She knew it sooner than everyone about her, but too late to stop it from happening.

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