Two poems about cinema / by Jimmy Santiago Baca & Sharon Olds …

Jimmy Santiago Baca

Main Character

I went to see
How the West Was Won
at the Sunshine Theater.
Five years old,
deep in a plush seat,
light turned off,
bright screen lit up
with MGM roaring lion-
in front of me
a drunk Indian rose,
cursed
the western violins
and hurled his uncapped bagged bottle
of wine
at the rocket roaring to the moon.
His dark angry body
convulsed with his obscene gestures
at the screen,
and then ushers escorted him
up the aisle,
and as he staggered past me,
I heard his grieving sobs.
Red wine streaked
blue sky and take-off smoke,
sizzled cowboys’ campfires,

dripped down barbwire,
slogged the brave, daring scouts
who galloped off to mesa buttes
to speak peace with Apaches,
and made the prairie
lush with wine streams.
When the movie
was over,
I squinted at the bright
sunny street outside,
looking for the main character.

~

Sharon Olds

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close the
mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the sides, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other’s eyes.

Their lives took
a turn–one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him–a place where she
would be waiting,

and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary
woman
breathing.

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~ by samofthetenthousandthings on January 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “Two poems about cinema / by Jimmy Santiago Baca & Sharon Olds …”

  1. thanks for reminding me of Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem (it’s the perfect thing for a class I’m teaching and also just a great poem)

  2. He’s a good writer. Glad you enjoyed the piece, Jane.

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