Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Tingling inside the entry hall, left of the foyer stairs

where guests have glanced in worry, hot, up at her shrine.

She's not here and this is a strange, after-hours tour

any room to be cooked by flashlight, meat smells in the air.

What was that song heard coming, coming in, about gone love?

Booties forensic with quietude and task

padding up to the second floor, toes outstretching like beast noses

toward one room and crack of the next for discriminate sniff

so when it comes to choice, one follows the wits, the point of it all

as if it were a jungle night, one can't be heard,

to her mumbled voice on tape by a bedside jug

garbling her text, her very own whisper that it's all okay, he's here

the country, it's in good hands, watch:  the last act's simple comedy --

and the world goes wet, spit pearls like the ones at her neck

making it a new day in the dark, turning it upside down.


My Main Man

One of us was a sour apple

and then there was none

It's always dwindling, I'm

someone, with bird vision,

ear on the tracks

doing the head count

ready with the barber blade

an accountant cutting costs

taking a big bite out of life

that's how this show is going

to be run, or my name isn't


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


 Who set this up that we're walking in the radiance of a Fall day

we, talking about it only in whispers, and then only when we're sure

they're in a good mood, catching a ballgame, eating a frank

or if we cuddle close to them to be unseen as not unlike,

some of us boutiquing at the shops, the same couture as them

the spitting junior image, same talk, same walk boulevardiers.

and why is it these same Mysterians came down came in

and made us slave to their digestion, our intestine -- just

relaxing fragmentarily to look clearly at ourselves, your eyes,

when busily a man in a camp and woman wide spread --

what's their intrigue, how did they get inside me, you, 

conspiring us to go along, play ball, play dead


Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Am Who

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.  

Charlotte Rampling as Charlotte Rampling.

Two films:  The Look and My Week With Marilyn.  These movies will get unequal public attention, yet they deal with very similar issues.  How does a public person, one known for physical beauty, form an art despite the beauty?  

I'd argue that Michelle Williams does, just as she inhabits the character of Marilyn, who died trying.  

Marilyn owned the screen, and if memoirs are right, had the personal chops to fill a room and dig holes in the psyche of those favored and cursed around her.  Monroe played, most successfully and often, comedic roles -- yet she yearned to be a serious actress consonant with the 'method' age in which she worked.  We might watch Bus Stop or The Misfits, but we remember Some Like It Hot or The Seven Year Itch.

Williams has the moves down.  The glances, the gallery-pleasing photo moves, the reclining postures, the depressive panics.  Women befriend or mother her.  She stuns or bewilders men.  Sometimes Marilyn's conditions are right, and a project completes.  This is the film world well-handling the real world of the film world. 

Charlotte Rampling, in The Look, isn't playing herself.  She is herself.  

This is documentary.  It's about her as an actress, and it does intersperse cuts from movies in which she's acted.  

She talks about acting, and in one interesting scene, she and her son, who's directing the actual film we're watching, engage in a stare-down, phrase-response acting exercise, wherein they repeat a random line back and forth and form a dramatic moment between one another.  At points, they 'blink' and move to another line conjured up by the context and continue on.  Fascinating.  

Yet she declares that such exercise bores her.  By contrast, we see her interacting -- for real -- with men and women whose artistic projects she shared -- novelist, photographer, poet, artist -- and with confidantes and friends.  Even, occasionally, random strangers.

Rampling, almost always in her film persona, plays the neurotic, the distant, the stern, the corrupt, the determined, the strong, the disarranged, the sinister, the seductive.  Some like it cold.  In The Look, we do see her British-French humor come out among close relationships.  Whatever the mood, she makes clear -- explains in the serious parts of her conversations -- that there's a 'space' that must be found, forged, secured, around her wherein an authenticity can emerge for whatever acting or photographic moment she's in.

Marilyn Monroe couldn't be Charlotte Rampling because she was Marilyn Monroe.  This may sound self-evidently silly, but the point is this:  beauty alone, what draws people -- a myriad people through the accident of a lens -- needs character.  Michelle Williams has done much to show she has the character to play a Marilyn who wanted it.  

Charlotte Rampling rejects a friend's remark that she's 'grounded'.  Though she doesn't say so, she may have preferred being called 'centered'.  One can't help seeing her intelligence and maturity, a kind of depth that an icon like Monroe might seek but find no easier to handle than a wet bar of soap.

An American like me might pause to ask:  is Monroe us?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Funeral Flight

The airport girl joked

teased him as 'Seattle guy'

storms shook all in him