Speechless the Magazine

 To render. Be rendered. Awestruck. Awesome.
A magazine of poetry and related arts straight from L.A.



Poems by
Gail Wronsky
Richard Garcia
Michael C Ford
Cece Peri
Sandra Hoben

Take 5!

Five Poets Take on the Movies


Cece Peri

Wedding Day Blues

                                    for Elsa Lanchester

We have waited for her, breathless, through two reels.
She is conspicuously late.  Right away,
there are clues things will not go well.  See,

she’s high-strung and wrapped up in herself.  But to the men
in the laboratory, and us in the audience, everything’s
forgivable in a seven-foot, grave but glamorous woman. 

After all, she has put on a stylish dress, gotten her hair
smartly streaked and uber-permed.  And she has caught
the eye of the groom.  We are all ready to see sparks fly.

The groom finds her appealing.  He reaches
for this woo-man.  She has found something appealing, too,
but it is not him.  She is fixed on

her new legs, wants them to move more smoothly. 
Wants her feet to set down more gently.  Then,
she can get stockings and sling-backs.

Wedding bells cue the doctor to bring the couple together,
but she recoils.  Her face looks like someone, perhaps the groom,
has emitted a foul odor.  Still, the doctor persists, forcing her

to find a voice.  She screeches, hisses,
as in hissssss face is unsightly, hissssss hands clumsy,
hissssss jacket inelegant, hissssss happiness is not my concern.

And this is it, the moment in the movie when we all hang
suspended in the knowledge that there will be no wedding
at the castle today.  Electricity jolts

through the children’s section of the Culver Theater
where I watch this luminous creature throw a kiss-
my-ass bouquet directly to me—and I reach.

Cece Peri is a transplanted New Yorker who now calls the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains her home. When not writing poems, she consults on academic and clinical research design. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including Speechless, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, and Untangled: Stories & Poetry from the Women and Girls of WriteGirl. She was the recipient of the first Anne Silver Poetry Award, in Speechless.

Contents    top

Gail Wronsky

"I found a DVD of L'Age d'Or in a bookstore in Kathmandu last fall, which was a stunning and delightful thing in itself, but I realized after spending several days there that, given the surreality of the place—its sadhus, cynical monkeys, Marxist guerillas, and the stoned-out grandchildren of American hippies--that was a perfect venue for it.  I understood Bunuel's irreverent, grim mix of atheism, alienation, and sex as a vision with timeless and global resonance.  Which doesn't mean we have to take it seriously."

Hommage à l'Age d'Or

I mean haven’t we all been
    severely in a kitchen fire
when nobody    noticed the
         oozing from our skin?

And who wouldn’t rather
dance with scorpions
than visit
the bones of
          religion (which are perched
          rather shabbily
          on a rocky
cliff on the island of Majorca)?

           Don’t we love to
           look at
ourselves in the
mirror, purse our lips, and say
           how do I love thee?

Haven’t we all
shot        children who have
taken something from us?         And
cringing violins cruelly
down a street?

             And      participated in orgies
with middle-aged women we’ve
plucked from
cafes on the basis of      their
                 narrative abilities?

Sometimes, I confess, I
a lover  invisibly.
    Afterwards I never know
        what to call
what we’ve
done.  I can’t call it union.
             I can’t call it
harmony with union.  I       
can’t say            something has
happened.  I can’t         say
             nothing has happened.
Does that
             strike you
as familiar?

           Once I
became someone else,  then immediately
who I was.  (Desperate morning!)

What do our mouths know?     Only
confusion:  the taste of
              fingers.  Our sexual parts
              know only dust:
absence, desertions,  cinematic
dissertations on
              the whimsy of their
              totally unac-


Gail Wronsky is the author or coauthor of seven books, including Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press), The Love-talkers (Hollyridge Press) and Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press). She is Director of Creative Writing and Syntext at Loyola Marymount University. Her most recent project is Volando Bajito (Red Hen Press), translations of poems by Argentinean poet Alicia Partnoy.

Contents    top

Richard Garcia

Angel Face

               from The Persistence of Objects

    Looking into her eyes was like playing with matches in a gas-filled room. You’d just as well try making love to an angel. Driving an ambulance, you see a lot. One afternoon I retrieved a blonde’s head from a culvert.

    But nothing got me ready for Diane Tremayne. Not even all those other Dianes and Dianas in my life, so many I referred to them by number—Diane #1, Diane #1, a Dina, a Dinah, a Dee Dee. I see now they were practice, maybe warnings.

    Diane Tremayne. She’d come toward you looking up with those eyes so innocent, in her pink bathrobe with the shoulder pads and tiny waist cinched tight, and next thing you know you’re bent over her while she’s arched backward above her husband’s semiconscious body in the back of your ambulance.

    You’ve turned off the radio, and she’s got the keys anyway. You don’t tell her that her face is doing this changing thing, changing from one face to another, into the faces of all the other Dianes you’ve known. Like she really is an angel, one of those dark ones who can pull you down through the sheets and you’re falling through icy clouds.

Richard Garcia was born in San Francisco in 1941 to a Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother. His previous books of poetry include The Flying Garcias from the University of Pittsburgh Press and Rancho Notorious from BOA Editions. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Warren Wilson Program for Writers. He has won many awards for his work, including a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Cohen Award from Ploughshares. He lives with his wife Katherine Williams and their dog Louise on James Island, South Carolina.  BOA published The Persistence of Objects in 2006.

Contents    top

Michael C Ford

"There were horse drawn streetcars on Huntington Drive in 1882, winding northward to a place called the Raymond Hill General Store. That eventually turned into The Raymond movie theatre, where Hello Frisco Hello starring miss Alice Faye screened the night FDR died. Three years later it became the Crown Theatre, which introduced me, at the age of 8, to the film noir masterpiece Raw Deal with Marsha Hunt and Dennis O’Keefe, and the resident fatal blonde Claire Trevor, who figure in my low bow to childhood cinema influence in the poem "Corkscrew Alley". This was the original title for the Eagle-Lion film Raw Deal, which, if it were not for the hard-edged directorial eye of Anthony Mann, might have easily been just another routine chase movie, rather than the dizzying, moody, thoroughly enthralling thriller classic it turned out to be."

—From Michael C. Ford's essay, "FILM NOIR: The Dirty Side of the American Dream."

Corkscrew Alley

It seems as though forever since you,
from that memorial balcony, were beckoning
by your silent call. Your burning consolation
in darkness was that Raymond Theatre
reincarnation: Crown Theatre, Pasadena

1949. Yes, you’d seen us, there: cinema’s
gray grammar-school phantoms. And the
way we ideologized your precious name:
Marsha Hunt. You were too young to be
our mother, exactly: you were sister to our

cinematic spirits: brave, pretty perfect,
protective, smart, compassionate, comforting,
crying because we were dying: more than ever
pretending to be Dennis O’Keefe avenging raw
deals everywhere. Soon, Claire Trevor’s tears

commingled with yours and our imaginary
blood boils all over an RKO Radio Picture
sound stage imitation of a remote
San Francisco

Michael C Ford's debut (12-inch LP vinyl) of air checks on alternative radio, Language Commando, earned a Grammy nomination in 1987. His book of selected poems, Emergency Exits, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Ford is presently working on three film projects, including the Kenneth Rexroth Centenary, and on three spoken-word CDs. Future projects include the launching of a satellite radio program to be titled "IT MIGHT NOT BE POETRY."

Contents    top

Sandra Hoben

Stage Money

In The Purple Rose of Cairo
when Mia Farrow chooses
the real actor
over the fictional character he portrays,
she makes a grave error—
a flaw written into her character.
If someday the film halos and burns,
and the projector flickers for you,
enter the Copacabana with him
in his pith helmet, and with stage money
buy ginger ale at champagne prices.
Climb to the roof and look out
at the lights of the city, the taxis
lined up like bread boxes.
Smile when the maître d’
continues to say, A table for six?
even though you make seven,
and at the singer who’ll repeat,
Who’s the skirt? These slights
are nothing compared to giving yourself
to a Hollywood actor on the back streets
of Camden, New Jersey—he’ll use you
and catch the next flight
for the coast. Take the fictional character
in your arms and show him what happens
after the kiss and the fade out.

Sandra Hoben's poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Antioch Review, Estero, Field, How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets, Ironwood, Partisan Review, Quarterly West, Tangled Vines, Three Rivers Poetry Journal, and Western Humanities Review, and in a chapbook, Snow Flowers from Westigan Press. She has taught at World College West, University of Utah, and in California and Utah Poets-in-the-Schools programs. Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, she inherited her wanderlust from her great-grandmother, Mary Murphy, who had traveled from Dublin to New England, but who was never able to make it all the way to Los Angeles.

Contents    top


Speechless Spring 2007
Copyright © 2007 Published by
Tebot Bach