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Silent Film

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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

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

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Silent Film

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  • 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 Happiness: Selected Poems of Herman de Coninck (2006). His memoir, Lost Sheep: Aspen’s Counterculture in the 1970s, was published in 2012.
     
    Former editor of the highly regarded journal, Aspen Anthology, Brown also edited numerous poetry anthologies, including Drive, They Said: Poems About Americans and Their Cars (1994); Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants and Bars (1997), with Laure-Anne Bosselaar; Verse & Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics (1998); The Measured Word: On Poetry and Science (2001); Blues...

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