Monday, January 5, 2009

“Dr. Zhivago”

This isn’t a review of the 1965 David Lean film—at least not in any conventional sense. As promised, I’ll be posting one of my poems monthly, & this is the kick-off entry. I also promised to post the poems sans pic or commentary; I kept my word on the first, & I’m keeping the second short—“Dr Zhivago” was written in the mid 90s while I lived in San Francisco. You can hear yours truly reading the poem here (an mp3 link near the bottom of the left-hand column). Otherwise, hope you enjoy it.

Dr. Zhivago

In this film I'm not quite dead but I'm just as good as because I'm a snowman; & besides she's wearing a wool cap, which gets my attention. There was something, too about catching a train, & the train meantime was inching up the elevator shaft or somewhere else it's snowing like crazy & in the Cyrillic alphabet or, as you might guess, a bit effervescently like this string of white Xmas lights exploding into still photos of her 93% naked. I've said that before. It's not like a string of white Xmas lights exploding into still photos of her 93% naked, it's like a flurry of eyeballs each staring fixedly behind a monocle. I told her it's 7:23 in Berlin & there are few poems that could compare with the goldfinches singing in her underthings or some other French lyrical malarkey about jewelry, rhododendrons & grecian ruins undergoing a blizzard; but as desperately as I was looking for an orthodox church & a Pennsylvania Dutch quilt with complex memories of her pajamas, just then I was somewhere else; & who doesn't understand that desperate sense of being displaced when someone passes the borscht through the clouds, through the Bolsheviks in their rabbit-fur hats & through that piquant aroma of copulation that accompanies every good meal, & all the while you're thinking of making it like souls in bliss in a house full of 16 tons of snowdrifts: though to be honest you're utter strangers, not to mention you're a snowman. But I told her it's 9:30 a.m. in Moscow & I need to get inside. There were a few other non-sequitors, for instance my moustache becoming the 1 sentence of a love letter that'll penetrate the centuries like a passenger train, its sleeper cars awash in snowstorms— but it really wasn't like a flurry of eyeballs each staring fixedly behind a monocle, it was like a seasick dictionary. Words, words, words. Right now it's hard to say why I'm thinking so much about her amidst the dead sockeye salmon gillcovers & the brokendown zambonis & the crumpled Personals section & the baggy Russian monsters. It's hard to say anything. That's what winter means, folks. The world is flat & so is this beach. Skating across the Pacific. Skating across the Pacific we fall in love & then through the black ice thousands of miles west of Waikiki. Under the dense & frozen waves you could see boxes of chocolates that sailors have been tossing overboard since time immemorial. I was about 7 then & drowning in the rural town pool's black water; at the bottom was a no-wax ice rink linoleum floor chock full of figure skates cutting her silhouette into a map of upstate NY's unhappy arthritic finger lakes, & there I was becoming a balalaika. Thank god it didn't hurt, & on top of that, here I was, if not dead as a doorknocker, then a snowman at least laying with her under a ton of salt & beach balls & dog sleds. If this ain't love, what is it? Nonetheless, I'm inundated with realists. Nonetheless, the revolution is tramping on snowshoes towards the Ice Palace. At last we have reached that delicious place where everything makes sense, but here amidst the Kleenex & the tortured teeth & the blowfish & the hypothermic gloves, who can tell who actually had a mind of winter? Good-night, my one-&-only, I'm floating away from your lovely wool face through the ice & through the regions of space where there isn't an awful lot of matter, just a few mongrel stars & a tavern with Rhinegold on tap. When next we meet I’ll practically be an iceberg.

John Hayes
© John Hayes 1995-2008

1 comment:

  1. I'm going back to read it again, but first - 3 things:

    it's a kaleidoscope in my mind
    it's a Leonard Cohen song accompanied by a glass of red wine
    it's Timothy Leary all over again.

    Kat

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