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



’Til We Meet Again

En route to San Quentin, the convicted murderer
scotches his escape while docking in Honolulu
to humor his shipboard romance.
A superficial fool for love, cursed
with terminal illness, she wants
nothing more than to recline in his arms
against a limpid sky silhouetted by palm trees.

Everyone on this ship is in love.
The incorruptible Irish cop promises
the con artist with a heart of gold
they will have a long talk one day.
Dropping the French to reveal a Brooklyn
accent, she admits she is putting up
her mother in a small place in South Dakota.

Even Louise, the long-suffering maid,
loves her simpering employer, whose confidant
shoots meaningful glances at the private dick
escorting the con. Shipboard,
monumental increments cohere, making
disassembly impossible. Each move
of the pewter icon on the line from Hawaii

to California overwrites the previous, immortalizing
the most mundane deceptions. Casual observers would note
simply a man and a woman in love.
How could they know that he knows she’s dying
but she doesn’t know he knows, meanwhile
she knows he’s about to be executed
but he doesn’t know she knows?

Fixed by our love of knowledge and our knowledge of love
we assume that, offscreen, Binnie Barnes’ Comtess de Bresac
will reunite with Pat O’Brien’s Lieutenant Steve Burke,
and Geraldine Fitzgerald’s Bonny Coburn will find Freddy.
In the closing frames, two champagne glasses
spontaneously shatter
under the weight of our expectations.

  © James Cihlar, 2012


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