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THE SILVER SCREEN

Let be be finale of seem.The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.’

THE EMPEROR OF ICE CREAM, Wallace Stevens

 

I try to imagine your childhood as if

it were mine – not just the steep terraced street

called ‘Coronation’ and the ice cream

factory round the corner at the bottom

but the cinema twenty feet away

showing double features every night

except Sunday and Saturday matinées

with The Three Stooges and Roy Rogers.

 

Ours minds were full of an America

that shimmered, that was large and echoed loudly

in the street – of love, anger, laughter, justice.

Our ears were filled with the roar of aircraft

from the local base. Behind the hall –

in the unlit entry where projectionists

took a smoke and couples courted after shows –

someone daubed in black paint, ‘Yanks Go Home!’,

and it is still there almost pristine! ‘Ars

longa, vita brevis,’ as some Roman wrote.

 

You shoot from the hips like Jane Russell,

utter coruscating one-liners

like Hepburn, whisper sweet everythings

like Veronica Lake. What sort of man

would I be now if I had slept only

yards from such magic! Perhaps a maker

of ice cream,  an emperor of seeming?

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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4 Responses
  • Mary Clark
    December 29, 2016

    The silky and sultry voices of these Hollywood stars echo in your poem. It is magic, but as you say, seeming. The line about the roar of aircraft makes it clear America seems too brassy to people so close to war. That’s an issue today as well. This is an evocative poem describing how we grow within our context.

  • David Selzer
    December 31, 2016

    The attitude of the rest of the world to the USA is, to use an understatement, a tad ambivalent. I’ve no doubt someone somewhere in the Roman Empire chalked up, ‘Romans Go Home!’

  • John Huddart
    January 2, 2017

    2 poems with an American theme. Love ’em or hate ’em, they just won’t go away! And how can you hate them really, because their culture is often more real than our own. Look at the love for them in this poem.

  • David Selzer
    January 2, 2017

    Yes, I do love America – and, of course, hate it at times. In some ways, it is Fantasy Europe: a republican, democratic constitution – two hundred and fifty years old and seemingly unchangeable.

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