For the Film New Orleans Mon Amour
You get a glimpse of rain slashing
on streets of iron gashed by wakes
of cutters passing.
Storm and charm,
wind in her arms,
trees screwed off all
wrong, cows bawl mom. Mom.
A blistered joy on the radio:
live from New Orleans,
Friday night high
On the dark, rain worsens,
threats are scraped from dark throats in dark verses.
Black waters patched with fire
run in thunder under clouds of wrath
with sliding wires, and my heart, my getaway craft.
It's not where the cat drowned, the trumpet gasped,
but where it all went down
Robison comments on his poem:
I co-wrote a film with the director, Michael Almereyda, and a young woman named Katya Apekina who had worked with Michael as a translator on a book he wrote about the poet, Mayakovsky.*
The film was set and shot in New Orleans, not long after the demolitions of Katrina, and was, like the city, hurt, damaged by underfunding and the compromises that an emaciated budget can cause, no matter how brilliant is the director or gifted his crew and cast. It’s so nearly a great film—
The movie is available for rent or purchase, but never got a theatrical release. My poem is about its moments and about bits of research done, the bawling animals, and the music of the film— its sliding wires and dark verses— and one of its inspirations: the Duras and Resnais masterwork, Hiroshima Mon Amour, of course. Our film too became a love story, and our lead actors expressed illicit love and the storm it stirs, its victims, and, along with the city itself, the huge conditions of an aftermath that is brutal, bewitching, and terrifying. At the end, our lovers hopelessly hopefully glide off on a raft built for the next flood, the next storm, under a bruised looking stone-dark sky and my poem is partly an elegy for those who cave to the urge for getaway, here connected by an old river to a New Wave, to the High Modern impulse for nothingness at last.
* Night Wraps the Sky, writings by and about Mayaokovsky, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008