An Excerpt From Park Jurassica

Dr. Grant Meets John Hammond

Of mobile home, a mobile lab they made.
Lights off, the sunshine poured in through the shades,
In dimness now, the place our Grant surveyed.
It wasn’t long before he found his mark:
A scurrilous figure rooted in the dark.
In fridge the menace scratched, some thing to find,
All clad in white, Grant saw him from behind;
A thief, perhaps, invader def’nitely;
“The hell d’you think you’re doing in here?” barked he.
This stirred the rooting man and made him turn
From open fridge toward the voice he’d heard.
With mawkish look, the man in white did stand,
A bottle of champagne in his small hands.
As if to answer Alan, questions stopped,
The bottle turned and out its stopper popped.
A bullet made of cork, it flew away,
Made Alan duck to be out of its way,
Caroming off the ceiling to the floor,
Where ‘t lie, at last, effective nevermore.
Incredulously, Alan Grant, with points,
Described the latest cause of his disjoints:
“Hey we were saving that!” he madly griped
To th’ man in white, whose face became grin-striped.
“You saved it,” said he, “set aside, I see,
For just this moment — this I guarantee.”
The impish man, unworried, came alive;
His Scottish brogue, his powder beard, bright eyes,
Defiant stood before the angry Grant
Who then advanced, continuing his rant:
“Just who in blazes do you think you are?”
Accused he, pointer finger ‘xtended far.
“John Hammond,” answered then th’ invading coot
Who took Grant’s finger, co’ered in dust and soot,
Into his grip and shook it as one might
When shaking someone’s hand to be polite;
“A pleasure finally to meet you, sir,
In person, man to man, as seems it were.”
Upon the name’s belilted utterance,
Did Alan Grant’s visage lose colorance;
Embarrassed by his outburst and his tone,
Quit he th’ attack, and left the thief alone
As Hammond raised his palm to blow away
A cloud of dust that Grant’s finger’d betrayed
Ere onward in the trailer th’ elder searched
For glasses, flutes, a cup on counter perched,
Some vessel that could carry his champagne
While chirped he onward, speaking up again:

It’s an odd feeling, adapting a movie this way. A good feeling. I felt it with The Big Lebowski, too (buy my Lebowski book, btw). I watch four or five seconds at a time, over and over, trying to take in as many sights and sounds as I can. These are the ticktock stuff, the narrative that I need to record like history. The cork, the finger, the stuff on the countertops, the dinosaur, the rug, Ian Malcom’s open shirt, Walter Sobchak’s tinted shades. I scrabble over the screen and speakers and pick up sticks for fuel.

But this is poetry, so there has to be something transcendent, too. When the music swells or there’s a funny pause, or Philip Seymour Hoffman does something beautiful and hilarious and poignant, that has to go in, too. It’s my voice in the meter and rhyme and it’s up to me to make sure the feels get recorded. Spielberg and the Coen Brothers, these are successful and efficient directors. They put stuff in their movies in order to get us to feel something. They know when a moment is going to transcend the sights and sounds. They have ulterior motives. I like looking for that stuff. It’s good practice in making myself more sensitive. You don’t feel it as much when you’re playing four seconds of the movie at a time. Sometimes I forget myself and hit play and the whole scene has played out in front of me, a dereliction of my duty to putting down just what happens in the next little couplet. But it’s all right. You don’t want to miss the big picture. You want to be enthralled every once in a while.

Anyway, I’m sending another excerpt of the new book this week because the well is still dry when it comes to original works. Next week? I’ll look at a lot of paintings and maybe do some gardening and pick up some fuel that way, I hope.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

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This is Phil.