A City Full of Eyes (James Cilhar)

About James Cihlar
Author’s Notes

 • Rancho Nostalgia
 • ’Til We Meet Again
 • Night Song
 • Lonely, Deeply
Light and Dark
 • The Face Behind the Mask
 • Johnny Guitar
 • Undercurrent
 • Nora Prentiss
 • King Arthur and His Mob
 • The Normal Lives of
    Good People
 • English Poem
 • The Projectionist
 • Man Proof
 • The Reality Show
 • Modern Maturity
 • Epistemology Roadshow
 • Nostalgiarama
 • Let’s All Chant
 • Rancho Nostalgia II



Light and Dark

The city’s neon shines on everything,
the factory, the rooms to let, the cavernous dive.

Mirrors on the dancehall girls’ top hats
reflect off the men’s faces,

the way pain flashes through parts of the body
randomly, and what is flat becomes deep,

a sense of vertigo. This is prewar, inky black
around the frame, cigarette smoke revealed unfurling

like a poltergeist in the sweeping spotlight,
the dancer’s placid face filling center frame,

or daylight pooling like phosphorescence
on Maureen O’Hara’s hat brim

in the grim canyon of boarding houses,
the castles of Central Park rising

at the end of the street, doors opening and closing:
the pageant in the closet, the hero in the elevator,

the dime in the gutter, the music of rain.
When Tiger Lily White twirls her furs and chiffons

on stage before the black suits, the whole world is ugly.
The flash of the camera bulb at Café Ferdinand

dissects the film into pieces, like amputated limbs.
The city watches out for us, silver skyscrapers

soft at the edges like feathers,
the evening star above the Brooklyn Bridge.

Talent is a stooge for greed.
Dancing means everything to me.

  © James Cihlar, 2012


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