Tony Beyer


it’s possible towards the end
he sang in his cell

folk songs or soldiers’ songs
from his late father’s country

suitable for the condemned man
in all of us

his crime forgotten
in an orchestration of words

yet for such an articulate writer
he seems never to have read a line

neither Baudelaire nor Sartre
nor cannibalistically Camus

(not that there was so
much of him then)

not even the Good Book
gets a look in

though of course it does
though of course its absence

is the one
resounding presence



in the intriguingly Cubist kitchen
of his London flat

Robert Donat as Hannay
sets about frying a haddock fillet

not the obvious choice
for an after-theatre supper

but the English have always been
funny about diet


I’m crazy about you Walter
Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity

an odd-looking woman
by almost any standard

too blonde too thin too sharp to meet
the usual femme fatale specifications

and Raymond Chandler
who might have written the line

or at least borrowed it
from James M Cain’s original

was already over
the movies’ jittery squalor

where all you end up with is a hat
a cigarette and a bullet hole


in Kurosawa’s Rashōmon
the hoarse voice of the dead man

speaks through the medium
with shaved and relocated eyebrows

as the voice of a child speaks
through the tube of the vacuum cleaner

to tease the family dog
the woman herself a soft rag

with no screen time in her own persona
just one via whom the dark words pass

her face expressionless
her eyes closed to this world

and yet the only other character stronger
is the rain


Godard’s two best films
Vivre sa vie and Alphaville

are undertaken on
a planet very like Paris

but with its colours neutralised
so architecture alone

without faces without voices
is in itself enthralling

spiral banisters indelicate
as a mouthful of smoke

but the rooms in the corridor
in Alphaville do speak

burping aloud libre or occupé
while walls or the people

between them
begin to deconstitute

and Anna Karina’s gaze
in both features

outstares the camera
making it and us somehow ashamed

Tony Beyer is currently focusing full time on poetry in Taranaki, NZ.
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