Silent Film

By Kurt Brown 1944–2013 Kurt Brown
Doors opened and shut,   
the director shouted orders   
through a bullhorn,   
or babbled just   
                              out of the frame.   
A carpenter hammered flats nearby   
for the next production.   
All of this, and more,   
while the actors blocked it out,   
already living   
in that small square of light   
where silence reigned   
like a tiny theatre for the deaf.   

Now, almost a century later,   
it's peaceful, far   
from the center of action,   
the last voice on the street   
reduced to a whisper,   
                              then gone.   
Not even birdsong   
as evening's opening credits   
begin to roll.   

Only the film,   
shimmering out of a disc   
thinner than sound,   
characters moving   
like fish in their gray element—   
less than fish—   
not a hiss, not a bubble,   
not even a cry   
from that dim world of silence   
doubled by time.

Source: Poetry (June 2002).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 2002
 Kurt  Brown


Poet and editor Kurt Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up on Long Island and in Connecticut. His collections of poetry include Return of the Prodigals (1999), More Things in Heaven and Earth (2002), Fables from the Ark (2004), Future Ship (2007), No Other Paradise (2010), Time-Bound (2012), A Thousand Kim (2013), as well as six chapbooks. With his wife, the poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Brown translated The Plural of . . .

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Poems by Kurt Brown

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Time & Brevity, Living, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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