Jesse Lee Kercheval
Japanese Expedition to Antarctica, 1911-1912

"This film premiered in Tokyo in 1912. The expedition leader,
Lieutenant Shirase, later used the film many times while
lecturing." Le Giornate del Cinema Muto catalogue, 20th edition

1120 feet of film
of the Shirase expedition
& all I remember is this--
Japanese in fur-lined parkas
tipping over penguins,

as if they were bowling pins,

as if they were cows, back home in Wisconsin.

La Princepessa Bebè

"The story begins in the bizarre kingdom of Curlandia."
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto catalogue, 21st edition

It's not the way Lucio D'Ambra made it seem
when he turned my life into a movie
& stole my name--without asking--for the title.

He made it all a joke. But I ask you
was it funny when my father,
King Ottocar, decreed Prince Sigismondo

& I should marry, saying--
"two handkerchiefs of land stitched
together make a bed-sheet?"

It wasn't until when he set the day &
forgot to name the year! Word got out--
D'Ambra arrived in Curlandia

with his film crew. Meanwhile, Sigismondo
left for France with no plan to return.
With D'Ambra, I set sail for Paris too,

sworn to bring Prince Sigismondo home.
We had some adventures, Lucio & me,
until at last I found the prince

& returned him to Curlandia in handcuffs.
But King Ottocar was angry--
as punishment, he ordered one sent to a fortress

to be guarded by his officers,
the other to the convent of Noble Damsels.
But Poor Papa, he messed up again,

sending me to languish in the fortress;
Sigismondo to the convent!
I blame the film crew! D'Ambra's poor direction!

So the movie ended. Lucio left for Italy
on the very next dirigible. Six months later
& still I'm playing briscola with soldiers.

But I've written a new scenario--
adding a sleeping guard, a secret door,
a seaplane to fly me to straight Rome

where I will become a great Italian diva.
Look for me in D'Ambra's latest movie!
Princepessa Bebè--film's incandescent star!

Le Carnard, c. 1925?

"A duck farmer enters into his work with excessive enthusiasm
and amour." Le Giornate del Cinema Muto catalogue, 21st edition

We watch as a farmer,
hoeing in a field,

stops work to catch a duck
& fuck it,

wrinkled penis pushing
past the feathers.

The pianist, stunned, stops

The audience falls
more silent than the movie.

The duck, to my extreme surprise,
doesn't seem to mind.