Borderlands, or Where is the Source of Corruption? (Touch of Evil)

By JON THOMPSON

“as the camera moves
through the streets of the Mexican border town
the plan was to feature
a succession of different and contrasting
Latin American musical numbers—
the effect, that is, of
our passing one cabaret orchestra after another. In
honky-tonk districts on the border,
loudspeakers are over
the entrance of every joint, large or small,
each blasting out its own tune
by way of a ‘come on’ or ‘pitch’
for the tourists. The fact that the streets are
invariably loud with this music

was planned as a basic device
throughout the entire picture. The
special use of contrasting mambo-type rhythm numbers       with rock’n’roll
should be developed . . . also
either the shot itself,
or its placing,
should have

a bewildering effect:
one just doesn’t know
what’s happening . . . ”

 

Note: The poem’s language has been fashioned out of Orson Welles’s December 5, 1957, lengthy memo to Universal Studios. The preview version that Orson Welles saw of his film occasioned a fifty-page passionate objection to the studio’s butchered version of it.

 

Jon Thompson edits Free Verse: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry & Poetics and the single-author poetry series Free Verse Editions.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here]

Borderlands, or Where is the Source of Corruption? (Touch of Evil)

Related Posts

image of a plastic bag caught in a tree.

Translation: Albanian Women Poets

VLORA KONUSHEVCI
Croatia produces a truly royal confectionary / used on special occasions, although some call / it an Ustasha’s chocolate, made in Zagreb by / widows who fed their wounded husbands / to the hungry war deity in Vukovar. / Bosnia’s cevaps are sinfully delicious.

Image of a statue of a woman wearing a dress in white against a beige background, cover of Ama Codjoe's poetry collection.

September 2022 Poetry Feature: Ama Codjoe—from BLUEST NUDE

AMA CODJOE
When my mother was pregnant, she drove / every night to the Gulf of Mexico. / Leaving her keys and a towel on the shore, / she waded into the surf. Floating / naked, on her back, turquoise waves / hemming her ears, she allowed / the water to do the carrying.

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

NATHAN MCCLAIN
Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel