This story is about remembering
Not knowing where you are
or if it's real
But you can die with a martini in your hand
The girl in pink, skating towards you
has an automatic weapon
behind her back
and this drug will take you to Jesus
if Jesus is a chorus-
line of short-skirt nurses
There is too much sun in California
There are other people
in this story:
the bride and groom who laughed themselves to death
the boy who lost hope
the pirate soldier, the man with two souls
the porn stars, the family
the whole city
the whole world
This is an apocalypse
in an ice cream truck
Twiddling his fingers
While LA burns
'He's going to die,' says one blonde, sadly
'There's nothing we can do,' says the other
as they dance cheek-to-cheek
hand in manicured hand
There's nothing they can do
from Cinema (2014, Makaro Press Hoopla series). Reprinted here with the kind permission of the poet and the publisher.Editor: Andrew M. Bell.
One of the benefits of being a Tuesday Poet is that you enter into a family of excellent poets, a family that extends across the world thanks to the wonderful world of the world-wide web.
This is how I came to be introduced to the work of Helen Rickerby. Helen has even read her poetry in Vienna - how cool is that!
The poem above is from Helen's latest collection, Cinema, which (Shameless Plug Alert) is well worth acquiring. I could have posted any of the fine poems in Cinema, but this poem has an enigmatic quality that really appeals to me. I don't know if I'd be so bold as to say I "understand" it, but I do "get it". Sometimes understanding a poem is less important to me than absorbing the poem. And I kept coming back to this poem.
It might be (as Basil Fawlty would say) "stating the bleeding' obvious", but this poem is very cinematic. It moves through a number of arresting images like the frames of a film. The images put the reader in mind of a spy/thriller noir film, but it has a sense of being very modern and up-to-the-minute. And because "There is too much sun in California/ for shadows", we might have to invent a colour version of the noir genre. Perhaps this poem represents a spy/thriller "couleur" film.
What more can I say? I love the boldness, the freshness of this poem and the humour. "This is an apocalypse/in an ice cream truck" makes me smile every time I read it.
Helen Rickerby is a poet and publisher from Wellington. She has published four collections of poetry – her most recent, Cinema, was published by Mākaro Press in March. She runs Seraph Press, a boutique publishing company with a growing reputation for publishing high-quality poetry books, and she is co-managing editor of JAAM literary journal. She blogs irregularly at wingedink.blogspot.com and has a day job as a web editor.
This week’s editor, Andrew M. Bell, writes poetry, short fiction, plays, screenplays and non-fiction. His work has been published and broadcast in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Australia, England, Israel and USA. His most recent publications are Aotearoa Sunrise, a short story collection, and Clawed Rains, a poetry collection.
Andrew lives in Christchurch with his wife and two sons and loves to surf. He is about to “drop” (as they say in the music industry) a new poetry collection soon called Green Gecko Dreaming.