slated for production

Stanley’s agent pops round to run some scripts
to see what he thinks and if anything sticks
she watches his tail for telltale flicks

first up is an actioner
about a retired hitman pensioner
played by Jason Statham
who has a lot of balls so Stanley can chase ‘em
but a team of geriatric mercenaries
Jason’s Age UK day centre adversaries
cut up rough
with some fancy silenced zimmer frames and stuff
till Stanley finally has enough
and goes full lurcher
in a real bone cruncher…

Stanley whines
the agent says another time

the next one is a romantic comedy
about a hapless, hopeless professor of paleontology
played by Paul Rudd
who’s good with bones but his love life’s a dud
so he gets himself a dog
writes a blog
attracts lots of flirtatious comments and attention
from an anonymous woman who keeps him in suspension
till they meet by chance
at a place you go to dance
with your pets
but they clash and end up crying at the vets
falling in love as Stanley’s leg gets set…

Stanley sighs
the agent says okay guys

‘BARK’ is a sci-fi dystopian thriller
about the resurrected clone of Phyllis Diller
played by Timothée Chalamet
who puts arsenic in the president’s canapé
then goes on the run
with her giant dog, Hun
whose stock-in-trade is a galumphing great bark
that reduces robots to a pile of parts
and who Phyllis rides like a horse into battle
in the final showdown, downtown Seattle

Stanley sits up
the agent zips up
her attache case
an orthodontically dazzling smile on her face
Well that’s great!
she says
I’ll go ahead and talk to Les
executive director
he cut his teeth in the advertising sector
so he runs a pretty tight ship
she shakes my hand with a crushing grip
Pleasure doing business!
she says
then pats Stanley’s head
as he yawns and turns and goes back to bed

double jeopardy

I don’t know what it is about the film Double Jeopardy
but like a detective haunted by an unsatisfactory case
I keep coming back to it

maybe it’s that police launch, throttling-in from the fog
while Ashley sobs on the deck of the yacht, holding a knife;

or when the prosecutor, waving her hand at the jurors, says:
‘Did aliens murder your husband? No.
Aliens weren’t beneficiaries in your husband’s life insurance.’

Or the prison montage. Weight pumps, abdo scrunches, jogging
round the yard in the rain
‘I got to hand it to you, honey. It’s just sheer hate driving you on.’

or when Ashley escapes on the ferry,
smashing Tommy’s car up
to break the cuffs
he’s cuffed her to the door with,
driving it off the ramp into the sea
when Tommy hurries down the steps to stop her
hands on both rails,
maintaining his expression.
and I love the way the car sinks,
tyres first, falling in slo-mo through the clear water,
And when they both break surface,
even though Ashley cronks Tommy good
on the side of the head with a .38,
you can tell
she doesn’t want to.

Maybe the film wouldn’t have such a hold if it didn’t have
Bruce Greenwood holding a cigar to his mouth at a bachelor auction;
an art dealer in a bow tie saying Kandinsky;
a corpse in a coffin like William Burroughs
smacked-out at a book reading,
and a sad bartender passing Ashley a red umbrella
across the counter as the cops come in,
‘Take this’ he says. ‘Get outta here.’

but there’s something else
something in the way she smiles
as clear to me and cold
as the water the car falls through,doublejeopardy
as sensible as the hat
her mother wears
trowelling around in that dusty garden
passing her a tin
of dollar bills
she’s buried
under the tomatoes
for some reason