Poem introduction

One of the forms I became very fond of over the last ten years has been the terza rima which is a story-telling form which I found in Dante - each verse leads you on to the next and the whole thing unrolls or unspools like a reel of film. 'Noir' is about film, it's about film noir in fact - it's a non-existent film noir, but it's about the way film moves against expectation and the way film conjures mood. And again it's related in my mind to memory.

Noir

Noir

With a firm hand, she dabs at two pink pancakes
and smooths herself right out. The man next door
crushes his cigarette in the ashtray and makes

a call. A car draws up below. There are more
cars by the curbside, waiting with lights on.
Everything is ready. Lights on the floor

above a snap off. Whatever business was being done
is done. It's time for bed. Boys stir in sleep
to the sounds of drumming that might be a handgun.

The plot is too complex and runs too deep
for neat solutions. There are only cars
and endless cruising. There are secrets you keep

and secrets you don't yet know. There are scars
below scars and, eventually, daylight over the hill
to wipe the windscreens by the all-night bars

but shadows remain on the lung and the grille
of the sedan parked by the gate. What troubles you?
Why so anxious? Why do you stand so still?


from Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004), copyright © George Szirtes 2004, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Where next?

Recordings

George Szirtes

George Szirtes Reading from his poems

1The Accordionist

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2Losing

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3The Photographer in Winter 1

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4The Swimmers

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5Rain

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6National Anthem

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7Soil

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8Pearl Grey

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9Copper Brown

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10Keighley

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11Orgreave

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12Preston North End

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13Death by Meteor

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14Noir

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15Meeting Austerlitz

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16Piano

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17Comical Roses in a Cubic Vase

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18Water

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19Prayer for my Daughter

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Books by George Szirtes