Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

Mary Pickford tried to destroy all her old films--
the fragile, flammable celluloid
her incandescence lived in.
A new generation found the silents simple and sentimental,
and their "talkies" stars spoke
in a clipped, faux-English way
while portraying canny, glib sophisticates.

Mary didn't want to be made fun of.
Honest emotion had gone out of style,
much as it has today.

Still, everybody wants to be made to feel
that their loves, hopes and desires,
their pain and struggles
mean something noble, something beautifully human.
Everybody would like to be young, beautiful, and in love,
and everybody would like to kick the landlord in the butt.

As the lady said,
silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces.
Florence La Badie can forever lean over a balcony,
gone for 90 years,
smiling for a lover dead for decades,
and she will always be gorgeous, and alive, and we will want to be her.

See the little dog running down the dirt road
after the Gish sisters.
We hope they turn around.
We hope he catches up,
because we all know what it's like to be found
or left behind.

"They're so blessed, so lucky,"
we say of movie stars,
and we wonder why they flicker,
though it isn't such a mystery.
is hard to hold,
but harder
to hold inside.

for Kerry's silent movie challenge at Real Toads.


  1. I love that you ended right where you began...

  2. I had no idea where to take this challenge. You have done a masterful job. And that open/close is brilliant ~

  3. Wow! Just... Wow! So much longing and wisdom! And put so beautifully. And, like everyone else, I'm very much in love with the beginning and repeat end.

  4. "we all know what it's like to be found
    or left behind" ... Such lovely resonant words, FB. What you say in this piece is so true - these early stars have an incandescence that modern stars with all the CGI in the world cannot quite achieve.

    Your reference to Mary Pickford reminds me of one of my favourite songs by Katie Melua, in which she says: "Mary Pickford used to eat roses, thought they made her beautiful and they did..."

  5. immortal silent film world...
    wonderfully expressed

  6. Thank you, thank you, for Mary and what was captured/taken from them--the incandescence. It flickers. I love how your poem clarifies the mystery.

  7. This is a memorial, a celebration and a lament all at once. These women(and men) lived themselves as art, a traditional thing for actors, but not much done any more--you show us what that meant, how we need it and search for it, something that embodies/ennobles our own losses,loves and lives and makes them significant. That video compilation is just heart-rending, and exquisite as art is meant to be, in just the faces and expressions. I knew you would just own this challenge, Shay. Just beautiful.

  8. So beautiful...I think a bit of us always loops on silent film...I like how you began and ended it with the same a sense I feel the whole poem could be about each of us. We may have never graced a silver screen, but we hope those moment of beauty will somehow live long after we are gone...sorry to go on...your poem sparked so much in me.

  9. This is the loveliest lesson in Film and in Life I can remember is quite some time. Truly amazing! Should be published by TCM in their newsletter, and you invited on a Golden Age Movie Goddesses Tour!
    Do send this about, Dear-

    Sincere ALOHA from Honolulu

    =^..^= <3

  10. Incandescence. Like the bulb that lights up film on the big screen. Like a star shining in her biggest role. Like the heat generated from flammable nitrate stock. Awesomely done!

  11. Love their drama, the way they wore fashion, most had AMAZING eyes - Love the poem, love the clip … I adore Greta Garbo - but she didn't die young.

    I'm going to look for these:

    Even though Florence LaBadie is forgotten today, many of her Thanhouser shorts such as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1912), “Petticoat Camp” (1912) and “The Evidence of the Film” (1913) are available on dvd. Florence’s last film, the sixty minute “The Man Without a Country” (1917) is also available on dvd.

  12. Love the cyclical open/close and this:

    "Honest emotion had gone out of style,
    much as it has today."

    Interesting statement.

    Excellent response to the challenge, Shay.


  13. This is positively inspired, Shay. I knew something special awaited me when the GIF of the actress was actually moving in my bloglist! That's a first. But then you are a trailblazer in so many ways it is hard to count. I bow to you (albeit not from a wisteria-wrapped balcony)!

  14. That's beautiful, Shay. I especially love the final verse.

    Critter Alley

  15. Brilliant! I'm enchanted with you poem-this one is a Golden Star!

  16. I love this. When I saw this prompt, I knew it had your name all over it.

  17. LOVE this, from the wonderful film clip to the closing lines.

  18. I went to school with Mary Pickford, she was one grade behind me!

  19. Nice one Shay. Incandescence is the perfect word to start and end.

  20. My favorite line in this one is:

    "As the lady said,
    silent stars didn't have words, but they had faces."

    That is so true and they had to use them to get the message across, didn't they.

    I could stare at that opening picture forever. It conjures up so many different emotions, watching her face as she leans on balcony.

    Like others said the opening and closing verses were perfect:~)


Spirit, what do you wish to tell us?