Ursula (Film-Poem Online)

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Black hair. Red claws. That's all you need to know. She left the cubs a long time ago, and now all she wants is a man to drink gin and play snooker. She keeps a gun in her purse and two ex lovers in jail, signs her letters with a kiss and a dab of cheap perfume. She knows how to use a letter opener, walk upright like a lady, forage berries in the forest, bandage a gunshot wound, claw her way out of the trunk of a speeding car, and roll away. She’s on the hunt when hunted, growls obscenities when hit by a tranquillizer dart. In this city full of garbage, she knows you by your smell.

Behind the Poem

The BearPaul Stephenson and I have been sending each other postcards with the implicit dare to try to write a poem about whatever is depicted--the stranger, the better. When I received this postcard advertising some kind of noir West End stage production called "The Bear", it set my head spinning. I wrote a very different kind of poem about a bear several years ago, a lament that became part of my first short collection Human Shade. But the more I stared at this "dame" with a pistol in her hands, the more she and the bloody-clawed bear behind her seemed to fuse in my mind. Valerie and I found some old excess footage, now in the public domain, from a Los Angeles film studio in the 1950s, and we put this together with road, wind, and bear noises as accompaniment. So this new film-poem was born.

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