Saturday, March 29, 2008

Richard Widmark, R.I.P.

I forgot to mention this at the beginning of the week. I happened to see Kiss of Death on AMC a few weeks after seeing the misbegotten 1995 remake; I was on vacation, and the movie was so gripping I didn't leave the room until I finished it. Widmark's Tommy Udo is one of those few movie villains that can still frighten you awake years later, thinking of that giggle escaping through those huge vulpine choppers, and it wasn't even his best performance. In the era of the Method he was refreshingly un-actorly. For a while in the early to mid fifties he showed an impeccable talent for picking good scripts, a lot of which used sadism and cruelty in an non-exploitative manner. If you think tossing wheelchair-bound Mildred Dunnock down a staircase in Kiss of Death was terrifying, wait till you see Jack Palance hurl plague victim from several flights up in Panic in the Streets, one of Elia Kazan's least mannered movies. Seek No Way Out, Night and the City, and Pickup on South Street; they're easy to find, and probably coming to TCM in the next few weeks.

The camera loved Widmark's face: those eyes set deep into their sockets, the hollow cheeks that expanded and contracted in angst or glee, the thin expressive lips. Even in quiet moments his sexual charge had a spark of perversity. In a 2001 Film Comment profile unearthed in the last few days, Kent Jones notes how Widmark works his spell on Jean Peters in the opening scenes of Pickup On South Street: "he builds a careful, subtle gradation of sexual intensity beneath an appearance of nonchalance."

That profile shows a welcome unsentimental side of Widmark's too: his preference for film over theatre ("In movies, you don't do anything, and you're a great actor. The less you do, the better"), his thoughts on Ronald Reagan, who scored the single greatest role for an actor since Vivian Leigh was cast in Gone With The Wind ("When I knew him, he was an affable, boring fellow. Now he's an icon. It's incredible").

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The denouncing-renouncing game

This excellent column by FIU faculty member/New York Times columnist Stanley Fish denounces and renounces the denouncing game the media and the talk-radio racket love to play:
In politics, and in much of the rest of life, being held responsible for your own words comes with the territory. Once you’ve opened your big mouth, others have a perfect right to ask, “Do you really mean that?” or “What did you mean by that?” or “If you say that, would you also say…?” (a question that usually has you frantically disassociating yourself from Hitler). But why should you be held responsible for words spoken by someone else, even if that someone else is a person you work with or share a bed with? I frequently say things that make my wife cringe, but whatever blame attaches to my utterances certainly should not be extended to her, and it would be entirely inappropriate to ask her to denounce me or to fault her if she didn’t.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

As usual, Marcello makes me giddy with shared recognition, i.e. he loves this song that no one else much does. Donna Summer's "This Time I Know It's For Real," her last Billboard Top Ten hit, may be the titan's greatest vocal performance. Fans will likely cite "Love To Love You, Baby," "Dim All The Lights" (with its sustained note before the disco chorus), "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," or any number of Morodor-Bellotte collaborations, but these are sonic settings in which Summer was most comfortable. In the hands of Stock-Atiken-Waterman, the late eighties British songwriting/producing trio whose sound was as boilerplate as a deposition, Summer refuses to yield to a context created and defined by white, nubile youth-flesh. She sounds reborn, burnished by experience but ready for new ones; she's fucking buoyant, like a divorced woman reaching orgasm with a man who finally understands her. The rinkydink arrangements SAW tossed at indentured servants like Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue suit Summer; it's not often that we much like who our friends date.

I need to point out that the non-hit followup "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt" is almost as wonderful; it may be the only recorded instance* of SAW being influenced by genuine admirers Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe.

* That I know of. SAW scored 4,000 chart hits between 1985 and 1990.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Worst presidents in U.S. history

This utterly predictable list challenges no orthodoxies; the American History class you slept through in high school taught you that Buchanan, Harding, and Hoover were three of our most incompetent Chief Executives. But textbook history, so fond of the soundbite and the generalization, gets awfully fuzzy. Sure, Andrew Johnson was a jackass, and was in the singularly unenviable position of succeeding our greatest president and one of our best writers, but my high school teacher said he sucked because he almost got impeached, as if creating this causal relationship was enough. Reality is, of course, more complicated: he was served articles of impeachment for violation of the wholly un-Constitutional Tenure of Office Act (that Andy got hammered on corn whiskey and railed at crowds helped his case not a whit).

The real villains are the ones praised for idealism or revitalized by contemporaneous notions of "strength" and, as that wily schemer and too-easy scapegoat Richard Nixon used to say, "making decisions from the gut." With the exception of Eisenhower, I find every Chief Executive of the last 50 years appalling or worse, unable to extricate themselves from covert foreign policy shenanigans begun by their predecessors or beholden to cadres of loyalists for whom the goldleafed paens of Peggy Noonan and the triangulations of dedicated toe-suckers like Dick Morris substituted for Washington's Farewell Address or Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Gore Vidal's boogieman is Harry Truman, the Republican Party's favorite Democrat. My own pick for worst is Woodrow Wilson, who always ranked high but was recently rediscovered by neoconservatives; they never took Nixon seriously, otherwise they'd have known that the Trickster used the former Princeton president's desk as the perch from which he barked orders to Erlichmann and Haldemann, et al, a tribute to the man he considered one of our greatest presidents (Garry Wills' Nixon Agonistes posits the notion that Nixon was a secret liberal, who suffered pangs as closeted gay men do when they see Congressional pages). We're taught that Wilson got the U.S. into World War I to make The World Safe For Democracy. What we're not told about is what an insufferable prig this man was, who for a time thought he was Jesus Christ. His record, as shown on this thread:

* getting us involved in a rather sordid quasi-war with Mexican guerrillas;

* personally assuring that black Republicans were purged from the federal payroll. When challenged about segregation, he wrote, "It is as far as possible from being a movement against the Negroes. I think if you were hereon the ground you would see, as I seem to see, that it is distinctly to the advantage of the colored people themselves."

* maneuvering, with considerable subtlety, to bring the U.S. into World War I while looking aggrieved. Violating our loudly professed neutrality, we essentially entered the war to assert our right to travel on belligerent ships (i.e. England) and trade with belligerent nations (i.e. England);

* signing the Espionage Act of 1917, which grievously curtailed the reach of the First Amendment during wartime and was a handy precursor to a certain something passed by our current president;

* pointedly refusing to pardon onetime presidential rival Eugene V. Debs, arrested for violating the Espionage Act (and Wilson was not one to ever forget a perceived blow to his divine right);

* the invisible hand behind the priggish, quixotic idealism that's defined American foreign policy since 1945;

* the Fourteen Points.

The pluses are real too: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Reserve, eight-hour work day, supporting women's suffrage (after vehemently opposing it). History, unlike politics, resists untoward arbitration.
Anthony Lane does his usual mellifluous corrective to David Denby's chapter-length ponderosities on canonical filmmakers, this time on David Lean, to whom I alluded rather snarkily in my Anthony Minghella obit post last week. I mean, so what -- we can use more ambitious middlebrow directors (I like Soderbergh, but no). My own favorite of his work is 1955's Summertime, starring a still in-bloom Katherine Hepburn as a spinster romanced by Rossano Brazzi in a sparkling Venice that bears no trace of Thomas Mann. Lane's right that plot and sex mattered less to Lean than shattering the carapaces of really uptight Britishes (Pauline Kael on Lawrence of Arabia: "If you went to see it under the delusion that it was going to be about T.E. Lawrence, you probably stayed to enjoy the vastness of the desert and the pleasures of the senses that a huge movie epic can provide"); but if art is in large part representation then Lean's films showed the English -- the rest of the world even -- how they wanted to see themselves. You can't say it was a generational thing either: David Bowie obviously studied Peter O'Toole's epicene moos.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cachao - R.I.P.

What a week for deaths. I'm not terribly sad -- he lead a life rich with acclaim and, towards the end at least, financial renumeration -- but it's a blow nonetheless. For those who known little about the bassist, bandleader, and composer, who for all intents and purposes invented the mambo, Israel "Cachao" Lopez made some of the most sheerly gorgeous dance music I've ever heard. Those rolling bass lines burrowed under arrangements of astonishing density and exuberance. I mean, Sylvester and New Order level of beauty, the kind in which you want to bask were it not for your shaking hips. I'm not a fan of Andy Garcia, but he deserves every plaudit for his stewardship of Cachao through the man's sunset years, especially for his production of Master Sessions Volume One and Two (for a while I couldn't go to a family party without hearing the damn thing blasting from a stereo). Get yourself a copy.
My review of The Orchid Thief, which should be read with Joan Didion's Miami to get a sense of what the mood down here is like.

Friday, March 21, 2008


The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

With drums mixed high and more songs about monsters and girls, this represents an advance from the terrifically calibrated, awfully dull Get Lonely. The metaphors aren't getting any less ornate either. Darnielle's very human voice renders them crystal clear, though -- when he says his heart's an autoclave, I'm convinced he knows exactly what this means, without getting smug about it.

The Magnetic Fields - Distortion

I've never given Stephen Merritt his due because so many of my colleagues have. As my patience for Tin Pan Alley moon-june precision ebbs, I value performers able to put over those verities more than a guy content to imitate a morose Phil Oakey. Of course these songs are clever and occasionally moving; the triumph here is strictly formalist, with the guitar feedback a fitting substitute for the malnourished murk of the earlier recordings. Merritt's been listening to Psychocandy, the press release says. Imagine the Brothers Reid with brains and a sultry ironic sense, and limited just as much by vocal and conceptual limitations (the Brothers Reid sound like exactly the kind of raw trade on whom Merritt would spend songwriting capital). Just because I like the best songs here as much as their 69 Love Songs cousins doesn't mean he won't fuck the next one up; even Phil Oakey understood that concepts only go so far to mitigating the effect/affect of tuneless vocals and moon-june rhymes. Still, I'll allow Merritt his triumph. "California Girls" might actually be more moving if he'd sung it instead of a girl; someone with such a high opinion of himself needs more Jimmy Somerville stridency in his life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield - R.I.P.

Although he won an Oscar for A Man For All Seasons, his best screen work remains Quiz Show. As Mark van Doren, Scofield nails the distracted, cloistered college professor for, uh, all seasons. He's patrician but never smug -- his best scene is one in which he shares late-night chocolate cake and milk with son Charlie Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), in which their companionship is made very clear. Points too for a raffish exchange with a miscast but okay Rob Morrow as Richard Goodwin, years before he pledged his troth to Camelot; they discuss the origin of the Reuben sandwich ("the only entirely invented sandwich") at the restricted Harvard Club.
Scofield: Who invented it?

Morrow: Reuben K, at a poker game in Omaha.

Scofield: I knew there was a k in Nebraska.

Morrow: Unfortunately they have the sandwich here, but I don't see any Reubens.

Scofield: Touche.
The NYT's obit includes this anecdote:
He served as a director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1968 and as an associate director of the National Theater from 1970 to 1972, but in each case he found the post unfulfiling. He became a Commander of the British Empire in 1956 and, in 2001, was named a Companion of Honor, a title only about 65 living people now hold. But, after years of politely refusing to discuss the matter, he admitted in 1996 that he had rejected the next step up the honors ladder.

“I have every respect” for people who are offered a knighthood, he said. “It’s just not an aspect of life I would want. If you want a title, what’s wrong with Mr?”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The Platonic Blow"

This ribald wonder is, as New York Magazine's Vulture blog remarked, hilariously awful, but so Auden, what with its mix of polish, camp, and crudeness (imagine Clifton Webb caught writing dirty limericks to Dana Andrews). Here's a choice excerpt from "The Platonic Blow":
...I opened a gap in the flap. I went in there.
I sought for a slit in the gripper shorts that had charge
Of the basket I asked for. I came to warm flesh then to hair.
I went on. I found what I hoped. I groped. It was large.

He responded to my fondling in a charming, disarming way:
Without a word he unbuckled his belt while I felt.
And lolled back, stretching his legs. His pants fell away.
Carefully drawing it out, I beheld what I held.

The circumcised head was a work of mastercraft
With perfectly beveled rim of unusual weight
And the friendliest red. Even relaxed, the shaft
Was of noble dimensions with the wrinkles that indicate

Singular powers of extension. For a second or two,
It lay there inert, then suddenly stirred in my hand,
Then paused as if frightened or doubtful of what to do.
And then with a violent jerk began to expand...
Review and interview with the Apes about "Walk Through Walls" here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella – R.I.P.

I was briefly one of The English Patient's most tireless advocates (my review in the college newspaper called it "the most adult tony love story since The Unbearable Likeness of Being"). The Talented Mr. Ripley provoked more reserve, but that one at least had a chewy, trashy core which Minghella thought he could spice by injecting the most risible kind of Hollywood homophobia/homoerotica. Maybe he thought that turning Tom Ripley into a sensitive type who bumbles into murder in the tradition of the Hitchcockian wrong man was easier for the audience to accept than the story of a budding, eager sociopath (Matt Damon's Oscar-calibrated "I always thought it was better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody" monologue is as grossly misconceived as Damon's Tootsie specs). I couldn't finish watching Cold Mountain, its year's Atonement. As Miramax's go-to man for glossy adaptations and Harvey Weinstein as his Louis Mayer, all Minghella needed was his Norma Shearer. Maybe he found her in Jude Law, who acted, with increasing desultoriness, in three of his films. But I still remember the shock of Law's Dickie Greenleaf, as chilling a depiction of callow privilege as I've seen. A few people walked out of the theatre when it became clear that Dickie did not firmly reject Ripley's coming on to him in their bathtub scene; Dickie says "No" softly, momentarily flattered and entranced. 

So it's appropriate to regard Minghella as a failed David Lean, fascinated by exotic landscapes, sun-kissed vistas, and a vision of sexual relationships as one in which malice was a natural consequence of thwarted desire. He got good performances from frosty types like Kristen Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Cate Blanchett, and Nicole Kidman. I like The Talented Mr. Ripley even though it's a near-total botch of Patricia Highsmith's book. Its sentimentalities aside, it depicts a particularly American kind of class envy, what with characters in pastel flannels mixing martinis, marveling at new refrigerators, fucking their girlfriends in a boat cabin, and heading to the San Remo Jazz Festival on a scooter with their arms around Jude Law's waist. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Did you call ME a liberal?

With campaign season more robust than expected, you'd think that unabashedly liberal Barack Obama and apologetically liberal Hilary Rodham Clinton would accept what the American electorate has always rewarded: embracing one's convictions without snivelling. To his credit, Obama's rarely shirked the responsibilities inherent in those convictions, but the constant stretching for the political center is really tiresome, especially when, "compassionate conservatism" nomenclature aside, George W. Bush won two elections by not diluting the big business protectionism and federal messianism platforms on which he'd run.

David Mamet's jittery, weird essay on his conversion to potbellied conservatism is yet another example of how good writers are clueless when it comes to parsing the subtle involutions of their third-rate political education. For American theatre's most marketable stylist of the latter half of the twentieth century to elevate as an an insight bilge like "As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart" makes me question whether he's listened to Ricky Roma ("You stupid fucking cunt. Who ever told you could work with men?). That Eric Alterman is riding to our rescue inspires shudders of anticipation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You have to be a real junkie to appreciate the amount of research Wayne Barrett and his team assembled for the sake of exposing how uncharacteristically receptive the GOP punditocracy seemed to be towards Barack Obama when it wasn't at all clear that he was going to be the nominee. For example: as far back as 2006 George Will's girlish mooning for the Illinois senator creeped me out. This is the guy for whom no show of emotion is worth exhibiting unless it's been filtered through Tory disdain; he addresses panelists like a landlord in a George Eliot novel visiting his tenants. Barrett agrees:
Since few Democratic voters—theoretically—should be affected by anything this cabal has to say, its impact on the nominating process has been, at best, indirect. But the right's talkers have helped to shape the way the election is covered. And even if they've only affected the margins, it's precisely those margins—in states like Missouri, or in district delegate fights, or in the narrowing popular-vote contest—that matter. Perhaps the more important point for Democrats is why these drum beaters have been so universally on the same beat.
Since I spend a fair amount of time reading conservative media, I'm not surprised by the quickness -- the shamelessness -- with which Byron York, Bill Bennett, et al decry Obama now that the blond Hydra in whom they've invested so much of their talk-show energy looks as transparently absurd to the rest of us as she did to them back when they were the only ones who gave a shit that she was just one more deeply weird First Lady. But, as Barrett points out, those of us who weren't duly offended by Geraldine Ferraro's remarks -- hell, who weren't paying attention when she said them -- still must endure the morning talk shows and at least 10 minute of a broadcast/cable network devoted to the banality of call-and-response.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rah Rah

I don't have much to say: lots of work, a couple of writing assignments, and still recovering from the event pictured below, taken at my friend Hector's wedding this weekend; I was one of his groomsmen. Enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing me photographed. I'm the one in front in the chocolate tux, trying to keep the levee from breaking after a high tide of gin.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Much better,,,

...than the album version.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I'm not predisposed to like Erykah Badu like Rich is. His description of her first album as " dinner-party music fit for an Oprah soirée" sounds right, although whether he means a soiree hosted by Oprah or one at which guests watch Oprah's show I'm not sure; it's not my idea of a rootin'-tootin' good time. Still, in that it's not charmless. I doubt that at this point I'll hear much of a tune on New Amerykah Part One's "My People" or am prepared to dismiss without considerable unease the muffled, muddled shout-out to Louis Farrakhan on the otherwise remarkable "Me"; there's a post that needs writing -- a sympathetic one -- about purported black American visioniaries like Badu and Barack Obama waffling when it comes to this horrible person.

NAPO reminds me of Digable Planet's Blowout Comb: a heady, dense, smoky, often meandering if not redundant stew in which its creators are trying to figure out what they want to say in the act of recording. In this sense it's a "meta-commentary," as Rich says. I'm still soaking in this stuff, but after a dozen listens I'm prepared to say that it's a better album than the Digable's worthy effort, which for all its considerable finesse seemed like a tour rather than a habitation; it wasn't an immersion. The one-two punch of "Soldier" and "The Cell" are two of the sharpest tunes ever written about the difficulty of empowerment -- how it fails to transcend itself as a campaign slogan until you're willing to accept responsibility for your heritage and its/your mistakes, which we all know is no easy trick."Honey" reminds me of Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" -- unremarkable in its face, but the artists' brief distillation of what the mass audience thinks is so great about them. Call it Badu's Audacity of Hope compared with "The Cell"'s Dreams of My Father.

It doesn't all work, but it's the most impressive album I've heard this year, and it sounds great blasting out of car speakers (what a bottom this thing's got). In 1997 Badu, with her turban and high, pinched Lady Day mannerisms, was lauded for how different she sounded from Blige and Whitney, honored as much for not being Blige and Whitney. Although I still find her voice affectless, I see the beginnings of an aesthetic strategy: the voice's detachment is Badu's way of mitigating the impact of her more incoherent moments. A risk, assuredly: it doesn't assuage the Farrakhan shout-out mentioned earlier. But now she reveals herself to be an artist whose genuine eccentricities are hardening into something deeply strange, and we expect deeply strange artists to say batshit-crazy stuff.
A review of a new Autumns track here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Democratic friends bemoan the continuation of the nomination cycle. I remind them that history tells us otherwise. Al Gore fought Bill Bradley for most of spring 2000, and, in the first year in which I voted, the party crowned Bill Clinton in the summer, after he'd fought Paul Tsongas and an obstinate Jerry Brown, the latter hanging on until the end (I still remember Brown's face contorted with rage at the convention).

David Greenberg points out that drawn-out nomination "processes" are normal and in fact welcome. After retracing the 1972 and 1976 elections, he reminds us of how particularly brutal 1980 -- the year of Reagan regnant -- was for the incumbent president Jimmy Carter:
Four years later, Carter, as the sitting president, should have had an easier time. But Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy launched a primary challenge that galvanized the Democratic Party's liberals. By June, Carter had won enough contests to amass a lead in delegates that seemed to guarantee him renomination. Yet Kennedy refused to withdraw. He publicly carried on his campaign through high-profile speeches while allies worked behind the scenes to poach Carter's delegates. "If Mr. Kennedy is feeling no great financial pressure to get out of the race," the New York Times reported on June 11, "he also appears to be feeling no great pressure to withdraw to avoid splitting the Democratic party." Days before the convention, Kennedy announced he would break precedent to become the first Democrat since William Jennings Bryan to address the convention before the first roll call—the gesture of an active candidate, not a peacemaker. He ultimately surrendered at the convention itself.
While I'm loathe to give DC pundits more work, the deferral of a coronation keeps the party and press from applying the patina of inevitability to either Senators Obama or Clinton that rendered the choice of John Kerry in 2004 moot in the eyes of a lot of voters.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Werner Herzog already filmed a tale about a young man who abandons the travails of modern life for the wilderness, only to be destroyed by the elements, and maybe he's the only director who could have tamed that force of bellow and blooze known as Eddie Vedder. A lot of people I know who've otherwise never cared for Thoreau are crazy about Into the Wild, and I can see why: it's got passages of beauty that don't devolve into static camera art, as so much nature photography is (and which gets Academy Award nominations); sturdy performances from the whole cast, including Vince Vaughan and the much-ballyhooed Hal Holbrook (who does tear up in his last scene without making the audience hurl rocks at the screen); and enough common sense from director-writer Sean Penn to deflate the windy romanticism which his frenetic editing and Vedder's tunes insist on pressing. But it's not enough. He doesn't trust the ambiguity in his tale; the soft gray Alaskan light confers grace on Christopher McCandless' last exhalations. I share Dana Stevens' discomfort regarding a scene in which McCandless urges the Holbrook character to climb a steep rocky cliff -- his needling the old man feels cruel; he doesn't expect Holbrook to crumple from a heart attack on his ascent? Emile Hirsch's performance suggests the alert, precocious intelligence of a young guy who's one more Tolstoy novel or great fuck away from foregoing his precious asceticism. Penn's approach is all wrong here; you can hear his boots crunching gingerly on snow as he sneaks up on the Krakauer book. As a director and actor he's got two modes: a determinism that he confuses with realism, and a toughness five minutes from curdling into sentimentality. He's so resourceful that he quite often gets away with it (as an actor; The Pledge is the only other film he's directed worth a second look). I almost wish that McCandless had fucked the sixteen-year-old hippiechick who offers himself to him; it would have saved us the indignity of watching a performance of "Angel in Montgomery."

Still, this is the most enjoyable Penn-directed film yet. Suggested next project: a Harry Potter novel.

"Gardens of Water"

A review of Alan Drew's debut novel here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Jeff Healey, R.I.P.

All I remember about the surprise Top Five ballad "Angel Eyes" is how it served as a balm whenever Warrant, Skid Row, and Paula Abdul came on the radio; it capitalized on the inroads Robert Cray had made a couple of years earlier. Watching the video now, I'm struck by the genetic similarities between Healey and the acts that his class act was supposed to supplant. Note the Daryl Hall hair phenomenon, Eddie Money husk in his voice, and lyrical sentiments you can imagine Jani Lane singing to his sweetie after promising her that heaven isn't too far away (okay, fine, the trademark class-act guitar licks are Healey's alone).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Welcome, March

A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

-- Wallace Stevens