Jude Marr


Casablanca, 1942

At Rick’s Café, America is
Bogey, acting tough: his frontier
lonesomeness wisecracks
toward a beautiful friendship.

In his dressing room, Bogart takes
a call. Not from Bacall. Not yet.
But Ilsa and Rick
will always have Burbank.

Heydrich is dead. The Blue Parrot’s
a backlot mirage. Only the bird
is real. While Renault memorizes,
Victor Laszlo eats lunch alone.

London is in flames.
Peter Lorre holds a cigarette
between yellowed fingers. Smoke
skeins linger around his head.

Paris. A city caged.
The Marseillaise turns extras into refugees
from Central Casting.
Beyond the soundstage, a desert.

A cardboard plane awaits Ilsa’s
regret. Our hero wears a trench-coat
over his tuxedo. He tilts
his fedora toward a hill of beans.

Sam can’t play piano. He never learned.
But you must remember this.
In Warsaw, in the ghetto,
they are rounding up the usual suspects.

Groucho Alone

No kohl-black mustache
slicked across a backstage pallor
bleached by klieg. Only
autumn’s grizzle, sun-blushed,
and a balding head
rested against infinities
of rusty brick—

A willow tree, a mockingbird, a gardener’s schtick—
paradise, you could say.

Three Days in Fall

Should I bring out my dead on this day
devoted to defiance? Another skeleton
or two—who’d notice? While pumpkin
skulls grin from porch rails and kids in
bone bodysuits go door-to-door, who’d
know my ghosts for what they are, what
they always were—shades unmourned?

Tomorrow creeps on. Maybe saints stand,
ready to be praised. Maybe they pass pagan
wraiths in midnight’s hallway, feel superior,
or maybe they simply give way. My face
is still painted, ghastly pale. Maybe my
careless yesterdays can masquerade as
failure. Maybe I’ll be wracked, or pinioned—

Darkness again, and I see I have no aptitude
for sanctity. No angels wait; no costume-party
demons, eager to ease pitchforks into so-
solid flesh. Star-points flash, signaling
deaths too distant, too seemingly merciful
to quiet consciousness. Mortal remains
mortal. No souls will light my dusty road.

Sigmund in London

His Hampstead study is Vienna rebuilt
in homage to guilt by free association.
Freud is eighty-two and ill. Facing east
he can still hear his books burning, or
see his sisters, who have no exit visas.

Patients sometimes call. His couch
leaks confidences. When he wakes
from a painless dream, Freud feels
his daughter’s love like scrim
draped over a raddled, raw-boned face.

His cancer cannot be excised from
a mouth made tumorous by smoke.
Sometimes, beyond pleasure, a cigar is
just destruction in a gaudy wrapper.
His doctor lies, but Sigmund knows.

Agony blasts ego into id, but Dr. Freud
is an heroic thinker. His ruined jaw
makes an oh. His physician has promised
morphine, but the analyst’s child may say
no. What does a woman want, after all?

Copyright © Jude Marr 2013


Jude Marr is originally from Scotland. She is currently a teaching fellow at Georgia College in Milledgeville, where she is in her third year of a poetry MFA. It’s a long story. Jude’s work has appeared in The Cortland Review and r.kv.ry., amongst others. When not writing or teaching, she reads for Arts & Letters and she is an assistant editor at the online journal Ghost Ocean.