Monday, September 14, 2009

Jamey Hecht's Limousine, Midnight Blue: Fifty Frames from the Zapruder Film

Limousine, Midnight Blue: Fifty Frames from the Zapruder Film, is an obsessive slow-motion breakdown, in all the senses of the word, of that moment of trauma when the President was assassinated, and a country's dream of itself shattered. Composed of near-sonnets, echoing Dante's Inferno in its descent into an American hell, Hecht takes the Zapruder film as a kind of ekphrastic trove, from which he moves anywhere--from Dallas to space, from Nietszche to 'Nam.

The poems have a sardonic, lacerating edge, in the mode of the best confessional poems which admit to the political (Lowell, Plath, Wojahn, etc.). It seems that Hecht makes the kind of historical ex post facto error that Oliver Stone makes--if only Kennedy did not die, then we never would have went to 'Nam, and the center would have held during those hectic years--but it may be, in fact, that Hecht is both echoing and parodying the way in which the assassination has come to signify The Fall in U.S. political history.

Here's one:


How about the triple underpass as the cervix of the world
and GG300 as the tragic DNA-laden tadpole
that makes the poor young planet swell with future
wars and toys and sedatives. How about

the limousine is itself one giant bullet
pointed, well, you know where. In fact,
you’re still bleeding. Or the pink pillbox hat
is also a horse tranquilizer we must every one of us

choke down, and the headlights are hypnotic lamps
and the pathetic death-of-a-salesman lunge
of Clint Hill onto the lurching hood
is the official dance of the People’s Democratic

Republic of Craven, Malignant, Heartbroken, Sleepwalking.
Or maybe that’s only the Miltown talking.

There is a kind of Berryman-madman-performative aspect to Hecht's poems, which Hecht aptly demonstrates in his video-performances; here are some:

1 comment:

Christopher Kempf said...

This is awesome! Thanks for pointing it out.