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Edwin S. Porter’s Execution of Czolgosz (1901)

The film’s last shot did not merely restage the tenderest

mise-en-scène

prussian blue, grog-blossom

brown, but the prison matron’s white

picture-hat withered

the angels to specular. Even now

the colors spurt like flax so yearny and tame

at the edge. Didn’t the feudal mass

raise other griefs: waxing

moons, subaltern manikins, veils

of cloisonné? What would Nietzsche say

and how would he purse

his lips:

The promised inroads of film

buy anything spectacular

including tins of biscuit

or so the neighbors say

lost in peachy serums. How are they to know what veins

to harbor the bread and circus? Gingerly

out of the old

shot to the people’s background

tableau each pram on Highgate

neoclassically hard

with plumbing

and rarebit.

So forth the tenets

fresco their looking,

decorative attentats speed

and slouching to pike.

Lead-blue seas tin cinema

an ochre laminae bruising black

as a brain-box.

For all the people know

this frieze is made

for goodness.

___
Bryan Emory-Johnson teaches at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. His poems have appeared previously in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, American Letters & Commentary, and The Denver Quarterly, among others.