Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hollywood Endings

Okay, so it's poetry time again. I wrote this one a dozen years or so ago and have ne
ver workshopped it, though I'm sure it would benefit from some rethinking and revision. But I've been reading this one to my classes for a few years now as the last class of the semester, as a sort of farewell, so it stands as it is - a working, breathing piece of poetry that's been performed in public more often than anything else I've ever written.

The inspiration came after seeing three pretty decent movies with pretty terrible endings, all within the space of a couple of weeks. It got me to thinking how difficult endings can be for writers and in relationships of all kinds.

Here she be:

Hollywood Endings

Casablanca ends in flight.
There is a leaving and a staying.
They would always have Paris.
Which is a dirty lie, to tell the truth.
          He didn’t have Paris.
          She didn’t have Paris.
          And they didn’t have each other.
          I’ll tell you who had Paris:
          France and Adolf Hitler.

World War II ends in flight.
They saved Private Ryan,
But killed a lot of Germans and Jews, Americans, and batteries
In search of their Hollywood ending.

Wars always end in flight,
And every landing is a good landing, maybe,
Unless the plane is empty,
And the crew bailed out at 10,000 feet,
And the plane just fell from the sky
With Bruce Willis about to yell, “Yippee-kayay!” to his mother’s lover
And lighting a cigarette on the tarmac.
Cut.  That’s a wrap.  Last one in, put out the fires and bury the dead.

Endings are difficult.
Someone always gets hurt.
The budget gets blown.
The acting turns bad.
The words keep on spinning like the wheels of a crashed car flipped
sunnyside up.
Even directors and writers find it hard to say goodbye.
But there’s always the train or the self-sacrificing Terminator, the tearful hug, the clicking of the ruby red shoes and an awkward re-entry into your Auntie Em’s bedroom,
Trying to explain why you’re late for supper and wondering if the Scarecrow ever got, never had, a small brain after all.

Sometimes, I think, if you want to leave, you should just go.
Forget Paris, to hell with tomorrow and yesterday—
Just one big kiss-off, then jump from the plane and go with the wind.
Sayonara, sweetheart.  Yippee-kayay!
Exit, stage left.  Fade to Black.
That’s all folks.  Right?
I mean, if you’re looking for me, go back to the start.  Casablanca ends in flight in search of a Hollywood ending.


  1. I like this lots and can undertsand why it would make a great reading. It carries the rhythm and angst and tawdriness of life, all the while looking for something better. It has everything. Thanks for sharing this fine write.

  2. Thanks for that very thoughtful response to my offering, Carol. It means much to me that you enjoyed the poem.