Thursday, September 12, 2013

Misfits: the blue notes

image borrowed from bing

Misfits: the blue notes

“Learn the changes, then forget them.”
--Charlie Parker


John Huston looked like he was dying,
oxygen hose in his nose, red-rimmed
sleep-deprived eyes, silver shock of beard,
sweaty hair unkempt, smoking cigars regardless,
tapping his foot & setting the beat
for his stark imagery, choked in white dust,
bathed in desert darkness--

call & response as Arthur Miller’s prose
comprised the comping, first meant to be
a panegyric valentine for Marilyn, but becoming
the syncopation, something transcendent,
layering the plot line with duplicity & rawness,
wanting to slay the myth of the white-hat Western
and replace the repetitive, the expected, with
those blue notes, Gay, Guido, & Percy,
modern men of the West with sissy names,
who shied away from responsibility & commitment
like a gelding about to step on a rattler,
who cherished & championed freedom
at the total sacrifice of everything & everyone
in their wake.


Nevada’s high desert landscape was treated,
and filmed like another character in the drama,
as we remain haunted by the sadness of saxophones,
& the bellow of coronets during the horse hunt
as that creaky crop-dusting biplane droned
like a deathly metronome down dark canyons,
herding wild horses out of the hills out onto
the nakedness of the cracked salt flats,
where the blue men & the singing ropes

for those short hardy mustangs, desert warriors
galloping Arabian-hard, breathing deep
their last few gasps of liberty before
the blue arms lassoed their spirits,
capturing their ragged joy, tying them
down to big truck tires, before transporting
them on their last journey to the slaughterhouse,
where they would become glue and food
for poodles and bull dogs.


The improvisation was serious & sterling
for those men and mustangs as metaphors
and symbols intertwined, creating
a horrendous new blood-soaked helix,
even as the terrible sadness was counterpointed
by the gentle stirrings of love, that very slim
chance that Gay & Roselyn could take
the broken pieces of their lives & paste
together some kind of relationship,
a delicious dance to a lilting desert song.


The fade-out was very upbeat, breaking
the dune-chill with the expert exhalation
of warm breath, and practiced lips,
as their lover’s heads tilted up,
searching for truth amongst the stars
in that clear night sky, searching
for the north star so that they could
follow it home. 

Glenn Buttkus

September 2013

Posted over at dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Mary said...

You've accomplished a 'jazz' poem in a unique way here. It does not surprise me that you would continue with your movie theme. Seems improv can be accomplished with poetry as well. Cool jazz here, Glenn.

Claudia said...

love that searching for the north star in the close....the blood-soaked tell a story in this as each jazz piece does... what i love a lot in jazz is that it goes usually into all the extremes...much more than in most other styles... and it tells stories that leave me breathless for a bit...smiles

Chris Lawrence said...

Wow what a riff so rich in a style all of it's own

Beachanny said...

What a poignant piece to choose. The theme in broken minors so haunting almost chilling. I remember getting the sheet music just after the movie came out and before I saw it. It took a while to get the rhythms right. When I saw the film it came together - who knew it would be the last film for almost all of them?

You accomplish much in this piece. It's as though you're words become a lone saxophonist picking up the story and blowing it between the stark images. Enjoyed it very much!

annotating60 said...

I don't know much about jazz but I loved this, especially John Ford.>KB

Björn said...

I get a road-movie feel here Jack Keruac driving through the west... very much Jazz... dig it.

Marina Sofia said...

What a breathtakingly original improvisation on a theme - yep, that's real jazz, and you capture the elegiac mood of that film perfectly.

Beth Winter said...

Mesmerizing. The blood-soaked helix both fit and startled me at the same time. Excellent.

Brian Miller said...

nice...this could almost be another part of your screenplay man....or maybe an appendix...others have said it but hte bloody double helix is is the turn to the star to find the way home...

charliezero1 said...

You've helped defined 'jazz poetry' in a way that everything is possible when it comes down to poetry.

You sir are my hero and a hell of a writer!

Excellent poem. :)

Debi Swim said...

I'll be watching that movie with different eyes next time. What an amazing poem.

Heaven said...

Liking the different aspects of jazz poetry, and specially that close ~ Thanks Glenn ~

Anna Chamberlain said...

Magnificent improvisation on a Misfits theme, your diction sings.

Nara Malone said...

Love how you worked the prompt into your theme and style. Nice :)

Laurie Kolp said...

I love it!

Linda M said...

Unexpected, yet so fitting at the same time. Wonderful!

Mystic_Mom said...

Sits back - whoa. You do that thing that is so amazing, it has no name my friend. Just wow!

Victoria said...

I'm so late this week...this means so much to me, Glenn. Of course, the Misfits is big here in NV. When I was still a docent at the museum we had an photographic exhibit. So many stories connected to the making of that movie. And the uproar when they demolished the old Mapes would have thought the cast and crew were still inside. So many protests but it was condemned. Great piece of cinematic history. Love how you wrote this, how you recreated it.

kaykuala said...

Very exhaustive, very well thought of Glenn. Your take attracts second reading all the time. You did it a real business to tackle all with gusto. Brilliant!


rumoursofrhyme said...

You took the prompt and the film and made it all your own - and that's the spirit of jazz right there; doing your own thing, no limits, no restraint, no need or desire to fulfill anyone's expectations but your own.

That you've done it so well is a tribute to your skill as a wordsmith.