Duane Locke

Overload #31

Movies from the Tampa Slums


A man stands on a clump of lumped snows
Scattered in tatters along the hard stone path.
His heaviness presses his footprints into the cold earth.

He hears muffled sounds, not from a voice,
But from echoes, but now he is secure enough
In this cold to believe the sounds never had a source.

It was his absolute loneliness in empty rooms
That created a companion composed of sounds.
It was observing that the mirror would not reflect his image.

When he closed his eyes, this companion made of sounds
Became covered with a woman’s flesh and he touched
This image of sounds, and it was solid with ribs.

He had lived in this closet of cold he build for himself,
But he met her with the dark hair and azure eyes,
So he left the imagined cold to walk in real cold.

This new climate of cold still had the echoes,
The sounds of even a greater cold that he created,
And worn for years as an overcoat that froze the flesh.

It when she was in his arms by the door that the cold
Changed. It was the kiss that took him from a closet
To stand without the motherhood of walls on an island.

This new loneliness was like thawed sea water,
Its icy fingers warmed with their inner fires.
Now, no echoes, but a real voice and its silence.


[In this movie people will have x-ray skin.
What is happening inside can be seen and photographed.
What is happening outside
Too elusive and obscure
Ever to be captured permanently,
Only an illusion can be rendered.
The actions, the gesture, the speech of people
Are untruths and myths,
And their only reality is what can be seen through x-ray skin.]

At first, the skull bone blocks a view of the inner brain,
The bone dissolves, changing a pure white blankness
Into a white mist.
In this mist whose immaculate whiteness
Is changing to a smoke with gray and silver tones,
Two replicas of the man with the brain,
Stand back to back as it lining up for a duel.

The first says, “I am hammering mosaics
Into a kiss from golden lips. My lips of
Flesh will sparkle from the kiss of gold mosaic lips.
The color of my lips
Will congeal into gold coins.
With the coins I will buy smiles and cut-glass wine glasses.
I will listen to the sea in sea shells.”

The second: “I grip the crumbling, surrounding sand to
Pull myself out of this white mud that is words and find
A place where my foot won’t sink through the surface.
I want to walk on the spasms of a ground
That does not collapse and stand by the white gold
Streaks on a river until the streaks become her hair,
And the silvered water her flesh.
Our shadows will embrace and sink
Into the meanings of fused darkness and its sunlight.”

The first: “You will only find something that will die.”

The second: “You will only have something that never existed.”

While this scene is being watched through x-ray skin,
The man
Is sitting alone
With a plate of yellow rice in an imitation Spanish restaurant,
Telling the waiter
That he was brought the wrong dinner.


A child smiles.
It is a smile that defies explication,
A profound smile
That quivers with undercurrents.
It is the smile of someone that does not know
At what he is smiling.
It is the smile at the nothingness that precedes knowledge,
And the smile
Of one who sacrificed his life to find knowledge and failed.
It is a smile
Whose sum, whose answer in incorrect
And in not based on mathematical logic.

The smile is a whisper that is asleep and will not awaken.


The air is wrinkled where the bird left
A trace of his motion on the wind.

A finger is rubbed around the edges of the trace,
The finger constructs two embracing, immobile silences,

Different silences are heard by each other’s different dreams,
One of the scintillating crimson of the peeled pomegranate.

The other hears her solipsism seeking to find the room is not empty.
He wished his thought had hands to be taken out of his pockets.

She felt they were together because the anguish
Of the abyss was a net woven like a spider web.

He was carrying a dark stone in a cavern
That was a long corridor of rough rock, had no exit.


[Once upon a time, movies were the occasions for scandals,
But no more. Scandals are so quotidian in our postmodern
Society that Scandals have become defied as divine
Democratic expression. Once Bruñel and Dalí in a faked
Surrealist movie had a razor blade go through an eyeball
With the hopes it would bring attention to their inadequate
Art. But now such events are so commonplace in our
Low class and upper class neighborhoods that people
Do not need to go to movies, for they can have live shows.
I suppose the only thing would cause a scandal today
Would be the depiction of an honest person or a sincere
Romantic love affair, but even these would have to be faked
Before the public would pay to see them. I have been
Seeking a subject for a movie, although I am told in our
Times, a subject is not needed. I want to make a
Movie that is different, not one that is everyday and
Composed according to the commonplace platitudes
Of postmodernism. You as an audience, know all
Those trite postmodern mechanisms: aporias, the surrender
Of authorial identification, use of the pantoun, the use
Of images from mass media, the apotheosis
Of popular culture, two separate scenes that are supposed
To be seen simultaneously,
Barrio life-styles, scenes that imitate Thelonious Monk’s
Jazz compositions, alternate universes that are as stupid,
Banal and brutal as our quotidian society, the yoking of
Disparate elements, acoustic relationships rather than
Imagistic concretions, everything dissolving into something
Else, the disjunctive, the digressions, the interruptive,
The antiabsorptive.

I want none of these overused, conventional and worn-out
Postmodern clichés in my movie.]

The movie Séneca. (The accent is there because he is
A man living in Spain, and not the Roman philosopher.)

“I cannot do it alone,” Séneca screamed, jerking his hair,
Dislodging his toupee, “but also I cannot do with another.
I cannot do it with a collaborator. Anyway, I don’t know
What I am supposed to do. What can be done. Nothing
Can be done. I’m going to the Iberoamerican Library
On calle de Luis González Obregón and look in the
Collection of my biographies.”

The library was closed, for the national championship
Soccer game was being played. Everybody in town
Was wearing short pants and bouncing soccer balls
Off their heads.

Séneca shoots himself.

The End.

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