FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS
VEB DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, 1960
With props from our futuristic past—
cardboard, tin & string—how did we
break the alien code, learn
of an invasion force that never came?
We send a team, we rocket
through the roiling, radioactive clouds.
When we arrive,
we see that those who would destroy us
left their shadows on the walls.
Apologies, Mr. Stanislaw Lem.
Your message was garbled, or we were.
We might as well skip Venus altogether,
return instead to Solaris
where dreams come alive in ghosts of mind &
no one ever really wants to leave.
THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN
Universal Pictures, 1971
Another way of saying one bomb
welcomes the apocalypse—see,
it’s not the bug-eyed greenies that get us
but our will to split an atom.
How I used to love this movie
when it popped up on my Sunday channels:
first film to let me feel its tension
under skin like shards of splinters.
The virus is the story, I thought,
unwilling to perform an autopsy on narrative.
Watching today, I know the bad guys are
we: a mean bunch of dumbfucks &
cosmic cavemen first encountering
solar fire that sears our bones to powder.
We frighten ourselves, shout: Look!
There are monsters here. Now run.
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Paramount Pictures, 1953
tri-colored eyes the Martians have like separating lenses
of course we know there are no Martians
unless there are in which case….
sure some folks believed it when Welles put it on the radio
people like mutts who hear a tap at the window &
think the cat has come inside
excited over nothing
but that was sound & this is Technicolor &
what gets me: the breakdown
on those three Martian eyes: red blue green
not quite primaries but almost &
how the Martians see our world as if watching
a 3-D movie without glasses
dirty flat & nauseating
I’d want to destroy it too
I’d want to see it dead
although from the look of things I guess it is
Prana-Film GmbH, 1922
Never, never were things made to last so long
That what was chilling now seems more like art,
Although its writers got the story wrong.
Before Lugosi, Karloff, or the classic Kong,
It earned its shivers, gave the crowds a start,
A passing fright not meant to last so long.
The film, though grainy, sputters right along
As Mr. Schreck, who’s creepy for his part,
Does Orlok well but gets the story wrong
Despite so many silent voices & the organ song—
Not prime (producers of this version weren’t smart
About preserving music that wasn’t meant to last so long)—
When Orlok dies without a dagger’s prong
To slit his throat & pierce his soiled heart.
See how they got the master’s story wrong?
Still, this iconic image holds up well as any throng
Of Nietzsche’s phrases or the five words by Descartes.
I only hope that I might last so long,
& no one says I got my story wrong.
Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song Without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.