“Poem with a Refrain from LeRoy Chatfield”

A Poem by Frank Bidart

October 13, 2021  By Frank Bidart

Last night after midnight, or would that be today? unable to sleep,

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I watched movies to remind myself
about our nature.

You feel less woe that we do not change when you watch
movies about our nature.

Ambition. Jealousy. Unacknowledged

paranoia, unacknowledged
addiction. The screenwriter who cannot sell a screenplay

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latches on to the rich ex-movie-goddess
dreaming of a comeback. He is doing it only until he

can get on his feet. Or the ex-movie-star
who has guided the career of his young protégé

perfectly and can in his own case see his own future

so we watch him walk into the sea. Why he does what he does

is, in some sense, clear, though how to deflect
any of it, deflect his death and fate

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is opaque. He is familiar
and opaque.

The restored yet forever still-
butchered Garland A Star Is Born

reminds me that what, at fifteen, in 1954, I could not
persuade my mother and step-father to drive

a hundred and twelve miles from Bakersfield to Hollywood
to see

in my lifetime I
cannot ever see.

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Last night after midnight, or would that be today? unable to sleep.


Excerpted from AGAINST SILENCE: Poems by Frank Bidart. Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Copyright © 2021 by Frank Bidart. All rights reserved.

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Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart
Frank Bidart is the author of several collections of poetry, including Metaphysical Dog, Watching the Spring Festival, Star Dust, Desire, and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90. He has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His book Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize and the 2017 National Book Award. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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