Big blue! So high. Uncapped for our
Benefit – bowling along, as loud as Beethoven
Up close– the orchestrated cold howls by. They warned us
How thin the air would be, but not that heaven’s
Volume knob is cranked up like the Colosseum’s roar. My turn?
Thanks, jumpmaster! Thank you for the green light. And
Now: clenched grin, a forestalled
Wave at the hurrahing clouds – then a two-handed,
Grecian-formulaic, exultant heave. In my camel-hair coat, new opera scarf,
And wingtips, I’m through
The screaming door.
Bogart’s chute is opening. That’s Wayne’s big one down
Below – majestically bobbing, like he walks. Mitchum is
Already on the ground, his bunched silk (like a soft
Cathedral’s fleecy drip) swaddling one
Lounging elbow, lighting something up. Is that a stick
Of Mary Jane? Mitchum’s so – what’s C.B.’s word? –
Incorrigible! One thing I like about thinking is
You never need to worry
About spelling it. Hi, Bob! I was
On that plane.
And Stewart? Jimmy was our pilot. He flew
In the war, you know. Let’s wave to him before
He’s vanished! Let’s wave with this bro-
Ken handle on the ripcord I’ve just pulled.
Adieu. To think that once, by Lana Turner’s pool,
Her lover Johnny Stompanato
And I compared chest expansions, excluding Lana
From our contest with the leers
And roars I gathered from his darkly muscled face
She took for flattery. Her suit was a strange white;
Her daughter, an unhappy child, nearby. Lana said
That Johnny won. My good luck was
No publicists were there. Did you say all?
O hell-kite! All? Not even Samson and Delilah?
(1949, De Mille.) Not Demetrius and the Gladiators? For
Me, if you ask me, I was good
In Ford’s My Darling Clementine; I’m sure that one will last.
Yet somehow, though, I won’t
Be in it anymore – as if you had just been asked
To name Franklin Roosevelt’s
Vice presidents, and their distinctive contributions
To his reign.
(Do you remember Franklin D. Roosevelt? I shook
His hand in ’42. His grip was as strong
As a runner’s legs. I’d been an athlete once
Myself. I knew. )
It might have been sweeter not to find out now: to
Plummet like this blindly, under the illusion
I could fly. As I do so with eyes open, under no
Illusions whatsoever – though I’m still over,
I suppose, a few – I can see Bogart
Locate a convertible newly Timexed
By late sun, and board it with a brisk
Caramelizing smack of its beige door. It’s driven,
Of course, by Betty Bacall: I should have
Thought of that. Insurance. And Wayne? Beneath
His homely Stetson’s crown, he’s plodding toward
Another Western. That means my fall from the sky
Will be watched only by Bob
Mitchum. And he will be high.
Three possible endings:
- “Cut! Let’s try it again.” (C.B. De Mille.)
- “Victor, you were wonderful.”
- Thank you for the green light.
– Black Clock 6, 2007