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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Poem as Screenplay : l

Fade in from black
to forest scene
and sound of chainsaw,
thump of axe. Slow track
through undergrowth between
dense trees
towards the distant sounds
and to a clearing with a lumberjack.
He swings the final blow,
the redwood topples. Cut
to tree-top, looking down,
earth rushing up and... Cut to black.

Fade in to river scene and jam
of tree trunks piling up. Zoom in
to logs as wood made flesh and dressed
in finery of bark and twigs - Revealing
splash of camouflage! - and masks
of woodland things. [One face,
at least, to show, without disfigurement,
below the waterline - much like John Millais'
sad Ophelia.] Black boots
of military style come into shot,
prance lightly on and roll the human logs
and prod them with long poles
when they pile up, as now they do, in shot.

Pull back to show the owners of the boots:
militiamen with hand grenades,
machetes and Kalashnikovs. Quick
cutting here between men shown full-frontal,
firing, falling, falling into groups, then falling out,
and two-shots favouring in turn
the dying and the vanquisher - all played
the way that children play
"pretend" and make it up
at random as they go along.
The bodies drop and float between
the former logs (Not all the dead
are innocents!) still being rolled.
Fade out to black

Fade in to scene of river mouth with beach
and open sea beyond. Pan
to processions on the further bank,
where figures clothed in white are burying the dead
or placing mercenaries, draped in flags,
on funeral pyres. Close-up of log-cadavers
gently lowered into graves - stark contrast
to the way that they were felled. Slow mix
to view from bottom of a grave
a trunk descending slowly.

Sound of piercing screams, though slowly dying.

Slow mix to red with yellow disc intensely bright.

Cut to surf, then pan along the solar-heated beach,
past steaming rock pools, on to where
two funeral ships are burning fiercely just beyond
the shallows, and then on to where excited children
build their palaces and castles in the air -
or so it seems, with sugar candy spires
and leaning towers, their turrets born of dreams
and overflowing moats with drowning men.
Zoom in to read the tattoos on the children's backs:
"You can't blame life for death," says one,
"Death changes life - forever," says another,
"Is life or death the sucker?" asks a third,
and finally, more simply said, "My death it is that sucks!"

Fade out to grey to sounds of ululation.

29 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

First of all, thank a lot for your comments on my latest post. They were very welcomed.

Secondly, this poem is a gem. From high drama to facetiousness, it moves like the imaginary camera that guides it, seamlessly. And how's this for beautiful alliteration?

'full-frontal,
firing, falling, falling into groups, then falling out...'

Great.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Shadow said...

you sure know how to set the scene. and scenary! nicely done, dave!

Elisabeth said...

So this is war. Brilliant poem, all the imagery and subtle understatements.

Does art emulate life, or is it the other way around? Whatever. This poem conveys the tragedy and excess of war, enough said.

Tabor said...

Nicely done and I can really see the images but my brain is trying to get the connection between the logs and the soldiers...beyond the obvious visual ones. I hestitated to make this comment as I am afriad it is obvious.

Karen said...

This is a tale wonderfully told. The connections among the trees, the men, and their graves and then the scene of the tatooed children are striking. The movie imagery really allows us to see this as through your lens. Very good.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I really like the way you have faced the issue of war through a stage set Dave - very clever and a new take on an age old subject which I fear will never go away.

rosaria said...

What modern sensibilities here, throughout the poem, life pieces selected and used for effect, actors and scenery set up for specific uses, the medium a character itself, a statement of how we live and die. One of the best poems I've read here. This is memorable.

enchantedoak said...

Holy mackeral, Dave! You held me spellbound as you told the tale. I second Karen's thoughts, as I don't seem to have any coherent ones of my own.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

There's a visionary intensity in these images Dave, a rapture through water and mud...

Rachel Cotterill said...

Incredible. If I ever have reason to adapt my novels to film, I'm calling you!

Dianne said...

It flows so well, I never had a moment to stop and think,"what was that?"
And even the choices of camera cues weave double meaning through the lines, aliteration is such a great inner song when you can capture it.

Thanks for this one, keep typing.

Linda said...

Can your poem be filmed as an animated short film? Would it project as well with images as it does with words? This is a vivid and very expressive look at the inhumane acts human beings foist on each other all to frequently. It is a metaphor for the disappearing forests of the earth and for the subsequent global warming that will end human existence, if we don't take action, or else it is about that and a metaphor for war. Either way it is brilliant and I like that it ends with the dreams born of innocent children. Thank you for posting this.

readingsully2 said...

What a clever idea, Dave. Well done.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

susan sonnen said...

Dave, I think that this is brilliant. :)

Studio Sylvia said...

Dramatic, sensitive, thought provoking.
Can't think of anything different than what has already been stated by other bloggers.

Dave King said...

Cuban in London
Many thanks for that vote of confidence, I was actually quite anxious about it.

Shadow
Much thanks, all compliments gratefully accepted!

Elisabeth
I think the best art is true of life, but perhaps not true to life. Thanks for your comment.

Tabor
I have lost the bet I had with myself: I was sure the comment would concern the felled trees being dead bodies! So not so obvious, but I am quite happy to go with visual. Two obsessions that end in death.

Dave King said...

Karen
Thanks for those remarks. All very reassuring.

Weaver of Grasses
I rather fear the same thing. I can see no end to it, and I'm usually the optimist.

rosaria
Welcome to you and very many thanks for your kind comments.

enchantedoak
Hope it wasn't me destroyed your usual coherence!

Tommaso
I like that: a rapture through water and mud... wish I'd thought of it.

Rachel
Please do! What a team we'd make, eh?

Dianne
I did wonder afterwards if the camera cues shouldn't have had more variety. Thanks though, good to get other opinions.

Linda
Two very pertinent questions you start with. I'd love to know the answers. I saw it as a double metaphor, or maybe a symbol and a metaphor, on the one hand, deforestation standing for climate change and on the other, war - the two not completely disassociated. The two evils most likely to see off the human race.

readingsully2
Thanks - enjoyed my stop.

susan
Many thanks for stopping by to say so.

Studio Sylvia
Hi Sylvia and welcome to my blog. Thanks for the kind words.

Steve E said...

Dave, I think this is my first visit here--not sure. But I AM sure I'll be back. Have to go to a 7 AM meeting now, but wanted to squeeze in a comment to you...that I really like your line on SHADOW'S:

"I think maybe you can stray into heaven without realising that you are there!"

Very thoughtful! Later, I'll do some catching up on your blog.

Carl said...

Wow. Strong stuff! Well done.
Carl

Derrick said...

Great, Dave! I don't know how you do it!

Jim Murdoch said...

Novel approach and quite effective. I particularly liked the four messages at the end. Well done.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Good images--very filmic.

Steve E said...

It never occurred to me that I could watch a film simply by reading. Scripts--to me--usually seem quite boring.

Great post on a great blog. thanks!

Mariana Soffer said...

great poem dave, I liked how it was written, and how you describe the scene, it is really neat.
Take care
M

Dave King said...

Steve
Welcome Steve, and many thanks for stopping by to comment.
Hope to see you again.

Carl
Thanks Carl

Derrick
Thanks again, always good to get some feedback

Conda
Much thanks.

Steve
I know what you mean, but ti does depend who writes them - try reading a script by Becket, for example.

Mariana
Thank you for that. Will certainly try to. You too.

Harlequin said...

this was nicely done all around.... visually, perceptually and textually.

Dave King said...

Harlequin
Many thanks for the kind comment.

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