With "16mm" I wanted to capture the ragged feel of an amateur documentary shot before the cameraman stepped into the world of professional cinematography, before his values were corrupted by the Hollywood machine. I wanted the jump cut, the non-sequential splice, the persistence of vision echoing in the line breaks that misconstrue meaning until the next line fills in the blank space. The 7-7-7-7 stanzas stutter into 8 lines at the end, like an old sprocket that can't quite grasp the last foot o
The French Quarter boys beat
Their table tops and howled
For a peep under her floor-length
Leopard-print gown while I wound
The spring and checked my focus.
Her last dance hit them
Harder than hurricane Betsy.
Even a fast lens was half blind in the red
Velvet gloom of a New Orleans dive,
So extra lights cut across the rattling snare.
The shutter chattered against my cheek,
Swallowing bone corset and stiletto
Heels blacker than the empty
Spaces between the frames.
Two weeks later
The Southern Baptist Mission board
Rejected her application to Africa
On account of her divorce,
And she disappeared
Into one of those ticky tacky boxes
In Boca Raton.
But I caught her with Swiss sprockets
And f2.8 German glass--
Expensive for an amateur,
But in 1955 no one had thought
Up solid state drives
Or silver spinning discs
Or even magnetic tape.
She’s sleeping cool now
In stamped steel cans,
Sliced into a 4:3 aspect ratio,
Wound on 400 foot spools
Of safety stock,
Her lips pressed against her lips
Against her lips whispering
A secret through the emulsion.
When I thread her through the gate,
The flamenco clatter of the shutter blades
Tells you she’s alive in there,
No lasers or lines-per-inch,
Just 24 frames a second
Blasted with a 750 watt lamp,
On a white wall.