Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I've dreamt about this woman, in her storefront,

Hollowed-out office shell on the first floor,

And anxious once again to wend my way

Peek at her place, empty except for a junk piano.

Middle-aged, gothic, ballerina-thin, this wraith,
Watch her again on her feet, arching up,
Reaching into the high-set, arc-lit nook
For inventoried goods, for offerings my way

With a promise of a sparrow, Katherine
Hepburn, plain nickels, dimes, a celestial map,
French words, leaning towers, beads,
Chowder, bubbles, child head of future kings

Rattan and stone, twigs, yellow feathers
Bingo discs, springs and blocks and portraits,
Apothecary powders, small, rare eggs, 
Dehydrated peaches, targets, roots,

Sullen nests and blood spots, winding wire,
Toothpicks and a clapboard storage bin,
Corked flasks and the Goddess Isis,
Handbill, parakeet and string, smooth frames.

Things not there -- but more for that:
Lauren Bacall, a Bakelite grill, owl eyes,
Sticks, The Palazzo Pink, old carpet wedge,
Stoppers in a cabinet, wire barriers, soot

Medici and mah-jongg tiles, shadow
Collages, shadows of collages orbiting sun,
Bric-a-brac inside the fold of dreams -- she's
Offering in her turn my way, her adagio --

Text of a romance, fireplace, matches to burn
An architect's schematic, pool house, transept
Smelling of chlorine and sky, The Café Mar,
Money news and a shaving brush, number 12

Sunlight wet as an after-rain, copper rings, a vow
Renting a boat in Prague and going all the way
A marriage of the mind of her black corneas
Extended pen, and the history of what's next.



  1. I've always thought Hepburn was brilliant. I recently saw her in Summertime with Rossano Brazzi. Even though she was quite a bit older than he, she was perfect.

  2. Willow,

    It's hard to find bad Hepburn. Sometime I will Netflix my way through everything they offer. Of course, the Hepburn/Tracy material is wonderful, and Philadelphia Story. She's more than an actress -- she's one of the ones history will recall.


  3. I really liked Cate Blanchett's Katherine Hepburn in the Aviator. I hope you won't think too badly of me for prefering Cate to Kate.

  4. Claudia,

    Do you score big points! The Aviator knocks me down! It tips me over! And the way Blanchett (also -- I don't think I'm premature -- great) does the Hepburn character! The way she pronounces 'Howard'!

    I've specially downloaded an mp3 of Benny Goodman doing 'Moonglow', the cut playing when DiCaprio and Blanchett are flying over the Santa Monica mountains and he gives her the controls while he goes back to drink out of a bottle of milk!

    Wow! This frisson will stay with me for hours!



  5. TF, I loved the counter-balances between Hepburn and Bacall, each with their own offerings and each beguiling in their own way. Now that you and Claudia have spoken of the film with Cate Blanchett, it is on my must-view list. My thanks to you both.

  6. I never put the two together, but of course you're right. The tomboy look and all those wonderful bones.

    Somewhere recently I found an interview with Hepburn and Dick Cavett, and I quite liked her playing herself.

  7. Cher,

    I'm a (classic)celeb-o-phile, unashamedly. Have to hold myself back!


  8. Karin,

    I can't take full credit for putting the two actresses together. I used them here because at least one shows up among Joseph Cornell 'box art', the deep, fast, insistent motive for this poem.

    His images, so odd and picayune serve this poem and I honor his vision. He, too, was taken with celebrity women.

    The Cavett-Hepburn interviews I remember. She was a big, big catch for his show -- for any show. Maybe just short of interviewing Garbo.

    She respected his approach enough to appear. It was a two-parter?