Movie Titles by Jay Passer

Films, Jay Passer, Poetry

BIO: Jay Passer’s work has appeared online and in print since 1988. He is the author of 12 books of poetry and has been included in several anthologies. Passer lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth. These poems are selected from Passer’s newest collection, with each poem titled after particular movies the poet has seen throughout his life.

MARLEY & ME (2008)

was the last book my mom read

before she died

and she was very well read

she loved her Golden Retrievers

and anything related

to dogs

she fed them a special diet

which when she got sick

I had special instructions

not to deviate from

science-diet kibble mixed with

steamed tilapia and

hard-boiled eggs

not too hot, son!

every week I made them Frosty Paws;

the ingredients of which

haunt me to this day:

plain yogurt, peanut butter, bananas, and honey

all blended together,

poured into dog-tongue friendly

plastic cups, and frozen.

my mom was a high school teacher who also

wrote curriculum for English classes which

are in use in California public schools

to this day

it was her firm belief

that the afterlife

was a place called the Rainbow Bridge

where she would be reunited

with all the dead dogs

of her life

my sister told me about this belief of hers

because my mom knew

I would scoff and sneer

at such an absurd theory

I am allergic to dogs

so my mom’s Goldens always basically

repelled me

which is hard to justify

since the dogs in question are the friendliest,

smartest, most loving creatures

on earth

my mom broke her hip after the cancer diagnosis

she cried when I said, of course I’ll come

and help out

despite canine differences, she was my mother

even though after meals

she’d let the damn animals

lick the plates clean

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)

Me and Bobo

Quote the dialogue

To the point where

Our friends

Disown us

Like sex

Awkward at first

Then after repeated views

It gets better

The line of women

The contour of mishaps

I was never a believer

Me and Bobo

Plus some other people

And a bunch of clanking liquor bottles

Went to a midnight showing

Like Rocky Horror

Or a Yogi Berra quote

“Deja vu all over again”

Like sex

Unto death

I see it now:

I’m out of my element

THE TERMINATOR (1984)

Maybe your first fuck

Or your second

It wasn’t recorded

In the future

But they’ve come back to change things

They send robotic assassins

To seduce you

Because it’s your first time

The landscape is wary of apocalypse

You got one shot

To change the fate of humanity

So you run

A woman depends on you

She will spawn your child

Because desperation is beyond

Human survival

Maybe the only fuck

Ever that meant

Anything

Now you are a woman

Maybe the only sequel to

Ever make sense

As the mushroom cloud comes

In a dream

THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984)

one fine day

I put the guitar back in its case

and went out and

bought a Royal portable typewriter

at the Goodwill

for $15

PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

in the end it could’ve been

the Eiffel Tower

the Golden Gate

the Washington Monument

the Tower of Pisa

the Taj Mahal

Cheops

but nothing beats a half-buried

Lady Liberty

for pure shock value

GUN CRAZY (1950)

we got hitched in a tavern

after giving carte blanche

to our primal instincts

as it turned out

you were the femme fatale

but at the crucial moment

I didn’t hesitate

to condemn us both

to blissful damnation

THE ASSASSIN (2015)

midweek matinee at the 4 Star, Clement and 23rd

a foggy gray day in the outer Richmond.

there was nobody popping popcorn

I bought my ticket from a ghost.

inside the theater I kept waiting but nobody else

showed up;

I might as well be watching this from my

smart phone, I thought.

I was treated to an on-screen jewel, a still-life

punctuated with incisive scherzos of violence;

yet on the whole glacial in movement,

for example

it took 5 minutes

for her to put on her earrings.

I was alone in the theater, once-in-a-lifetime

so nobody noticed

when I wiped away the tears with a grubby hand

lacking any silk handkerchiefs.

BICYCLE THIEVES (1948)

In the outskirts of Rome

the walls are crumbling.

The Tiber meanders

beneath bridge arches and the snake

of human desperation sets

anxious streets on edge.

A father finds his dignity

peeled away by random acts of corruption.

He barks at his son.

He slaps him,

then offers to get him drunk.

The kid is still in short pants.

The father rushes across the street

in agitated search of his purloined bicycle

as his son trots behind,

dodging traffic.

Their coats are ragged and torn,

Neo-realist post-World War.

The father paces

back and forth,

and finally sheds his last shred

of morality,

repeating the insidious act

and of course,

is promptly

busted.

The Tiber claims

late afternoon sunlight,

the streetcars

are full to brimming with chaos,

mobs jostle and accuse

as the son rescues

his father’s hat

from the dust of the street

following the skirmish.

The father is promptly absolved

though in solemn duress;

his son grasps his hand.

As the crowd

swallows the both of them.