Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Tonight's Sunset and Judy Garland Laughing

This iPhone photo of a slice of tonight's sunset is brought to you through the courtesy of the stop light at Coleman Avenue and Almaden Expressway. I keep wanting to trek up to Quicksilver Park--below those clouds--but today we took an old dog to the vet (her leg isn't broken, just strained) and picked up the cleaned rugs and took some clothes to another cleaner, and ate Chinese Food. Sort of took care of photo sessions!

Last night I mentioned the Laurel Review and my poem that was published there. I was always pleased that my poem was on a page facing a poem by Walter Pavlich, who was at the Foothill Writer's Conference some years ago. I always liked him (he died suddenly, very young) and I was pleased to be in the same magazine. He had two poems there. This is the second one, I'll probably post the other one soon.

Judy Garland Laughing

Not the nervous TV Judy
narcotized, befuddled under
the unkind lights, searching
for the next note, sluggish
uncertain quaver into the wrong
camera, bowing not in triumph
but in relief with a sloshy
neat gin not-so-hidden
behind the scrim.

This is the Judy soon
after Oz, on the Charlie
McCarthy radio show.
The war needed laughs.
So she played to
the extemporizing dummy
with the warm hand
up its back and could not
stop laughing, the audience
at home smiling with its
eyes closed, while the bombs
fell somewhere else.

Walter Pavlich, in The Laurel Review, Volume 27, No, 1, Winter, 1993, page 74.

Since I remember what we will always call "The War" very well and heard Charlie many times in The Years Before Television Ruined Thanksgiving (and all the other holidays) and turned us willy-nilly into Football Nation, this poem has a special resonance for me, although I doubt I heard that broadcast.
And of course I remember how nice Walter was at the conference! So this is a true Memory Thread. Note that the structure of this poem is quite simple: two stanzas. The first one, a description of the Later Judy, makes this memory of Young Judy in the second stanza more poignant. And the terrible touch of the war--which most of us, especially children, only imagined--puts our simple pleasures into a larger and more terrible frame.

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