Thursday, February 11, 2010

Poem: "Cinema"


Allá del otro lado, se extienden las playas inmensas como una mirada de amor
—Octavio Paz, “¿No hay salida?”
We may pilot a refitted three-masted collier or a state-of-the art starship,
it does not matter which, when we have sailed too long at sea or in space,
the mission, to find breadfruit or survivors, shriveled to a hard monotony.
When land swings into sight, as it eventually does, in glorious Metrocolor,
the shore bristling with a thousand spears closely packed as a wheat field,
how can it not bear the look of love as well, a planet like Earth, but better?
There will, of course, be a father, a powerful king or a brilliant professor,
who raised love to perfection and shielded her from pricks of knowledge.
He will have a servant, a robot capable of producing silk dresses overnight
or a translator trusted by the island and wise in the ways of the intruders.
The natives are expendable. They can line up to hold a curious fishing net
or the planet can be all landscape and empty of people. Crucial to the plot,
however, is the sense of impending havoc. We bring the monster with us.
Whether the name of evil is Original Sin or Id, Colonialism or Patriarchy,
we don’t know but that does not stop it from murdering our companions.
We concentrate it in one person, captain or scholar, so we can destroy it.
And that frees us to settle on this island with beautiful men and women
or flee in the vessel, with love on board, and watch that planet explode.



Shropshirelad said...

Hmmm. A tempestous bounty of forbidden bodies beyond the Bermoothes beckons me to recall a visit I once took to Tahiti...

Greg said...

Thank you for this poem, Jee. I like it a lot. It makes me think of the "Star Wars" character Darth Vader who, in his earlier life as Anakin Skywalker (in the much-disliked "Star Wars Episodes 1-3" movies), was preoccupied with obtaining super-power in order to "rescue" people (especially women) from dubiously but definitely defined "evils". This preoccupation leads him to become Darth Vader; and as Darth Vader (in "Star Wars" episode 4) he blows up a populated planet (similar to the end of your poem). It seems to me that those movies do a pretty good job of portraying the psychological development of a male genocidal autocrat, though I get a bit bored with the long racing scenes, fight scenes, & special effects.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Eric,
"A bounty of bodies" is a fine phrase. See who uses it first.

Hi Greg,
I like "Star Wars" (what a simple but great name). Glad you enjoy the poem.