Sunday, January 16, 2022

Saint Flashlight’s The Will of the City

Hamlet By Diane Mehta


Saint Flashlight’s The Will of the City
 
What happens when playwrights and poets alike draw inspiration from William Shakespeare? Magic, perhaps. Over the last five months as a curator for Saint Flashlight, I invited over a dozen writers to mine Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, and the like to create fresh verse reflecting a contemporary POV. The resultant poems – many of them sonnets, all of them thought-provoking, repeatedly delightful – have been on display in the windows of Theatre for a New Audience since the Autumn of 2021. The overall series, entitled The Will of the City, may no longer be surprising passersby at the Brooklyn performance space but you can read most of them here now below. The order reflects their sequential roll-out on the theater’s street-side, big-screen monitors. Special thanks to TFANA's Jeffrey Horowitz, Jennifer Lam, Torrence Browne, and Steven Gaultney (a staff member who’s also a playwright and now a poet) for helping to make this project not just possible but immensely enjoyable, too.
 
Drew Pisarra
Saint Flashlight Co-Founder
 
 
Kent after Lear
by Steven Gaultney
 
Is this the promised end, or just an end,
All promise long forgot? How many lives
Can one surrender, lives on end, yet spend
More life? His spirit breaks, yet he survives.
Vex not his ghost. But I remember days
When he, behind the wheel of that Corvette
He used to pray to, howl-howled down highways,
Eyes arched to heaven’s vault, its stars no threat.
Break, heart, to see him roaming vast expanses,
Soul still unbound now bounding every mountain,
Up peaks where thunder stomps and lightning dances,
Voice raised to god still sure the sky must bargain.
       If this same man is now but earth on earth
       Why should his slave tread dust of so much worth?
 
 
The Exchange
by Anya Banerjee
 
My mother never called me Changeling Boy. 
Her name for me remains unheard, unknown. 
And yet, somewhere within, it brings me joy; 
That safely secret name shall not be owned. 
Sometimes whispers call out a lover’s name 
And sail through the forest like merchant ships. 
My chance to steal some merchandise! I claim 
Their treasured whispers, sealed between my lips. 
But this Midsummer Night my lips do part; 
Out flies a voice, familiar yet strange.
And here my broken and twice-stolen heart 
Begins to ask “For what was I exchanged?” 
No fairy dust, no spicèd Indian air. 
Just little old me and my self laid bare.


 
The Mother of Othello Comes Before Us
by Malcolm Tariq
 
Men raced into darkness look for light.
They return black as my face. My name
that is as flesh made him all the more
an example he could not return.
Had he devoured my discourse, observed
my title, I would not be the monster
in his thoughts. My mystery is the cause.
And when I turn the business of my soul,
it was I who killed her. Had I taught him
to tell my story, would it repair him?
Certain, men should be what they seem,
but doubt was my first gift. Then, fate.
I must confess the vices of my blood—
I love my son. I hate the Moor.
 
 
Hamlet
By Diane Mehta
 
Cowards, all: to be the end of this design,
ice-fields swimming slowly out to sea,
razing our ecologies, our needs unquenchable,
peat-bogs we make calamities of; so long life—
these clouds are white, my ravishments are dreams
irredeemable. Outrageous fortune! I weep.
A thousand loves are stolen from the years,
hectares would be mine, undiscovered country
my largesse, purple-puzzle sky and green auroras,
foamflowers in blue shade below knobcone trees,
world so near and long alive; wrecked, all wrecked.
I see my father’s pale ghost wandering and wonder
who is murdering our eternities. Cowards, all.
Art of trouble, sea of love, questions inside
questions. I won’t grow old; don’t lose count of me.
 
 
Winter’s Tale for a Warming World 
by Will Eno
 
Would that this most unworldly world would stop, 
Say I over bread crusts and water. 
Jailed by the mad king and torturous thoughts 
Of my wasted dead son and lost daughter, 
I strain to remember happier days. 
A stone castle of trust, not suspicion. 
Years of good queenly grace and marmalade, 
Not this moth-bitten rank isolation. 
Then statuesquely I come to pained life, 
And my play ends with a comical turn. 
While on unstaged Earth we waste sacred time, 
Our treetops and weak lungs crackle and burn. 
Enough rhyming, cruelty, paranoia, meter, poison-- it’s near hopeless. 
Near hopeless is where the best hope is born.
 
 
The Block Talk
by Modesto Flako Jimenez
 
                                                                                 (Enter Woos & Choos Chorus)
 
1 - Two Factions both turning up in the streets (a)
2 - In Flatbush Brooklyn, New York, Peep the scene, (b)
3 - The Choos and Woos mix-in Bloods and Crips (a) 
4 - Bringing bloody blocks when forty Glocks gleam (b)
 
1 - From these rivals emerges Brooklyn Drill (c)
2 - That Brings capital gains with each POW sound (d)  
3 - And street kill all wanting to claim the bill (c)
4 - Bodies dying, broken limbs force sit down (d)
 
1 - The nightly tales of black souls dropping (e)
2 - The Angered in despair infested streets (f)
3 - and killing of Pop Smoke got us talking (e)
4 - putting the guns down we begin to see (f)
 
1 - If you listen to the neighborhood talk (g)
2 - You will understand this tale in a walk (g)
 
                                                                                 (Woos & Choos Chorus Exit)
 
 
Taming Of The Shrew
by Regie Cabico 
 
In the bronze of my Filipino,
fallow face, my ocean face,
my Scruff suitor phantoms
fossilizing my face, my jowls,
my howling jowls at a moon
face, moonbeams reflecting
the gilded sea, to the suitor
gushing the savagery of the sea
in me, lost in thistles,
my orchestral conductor,
my mirror of exclamations, 
my cliff, my whistle, my peacock
feather in leather, my silver whip,
my pain, my hand is ready…
 
 
CLEOPATRA
by Twinkle Burke
 
Regnant queen providing a radiant light
Her power emerging from deep within.
Does her ebony frighten or delight?
Can it save you from the wages of sin?
 
Vivid melanin infatuation
Revered by her fierce and bronzy skin
Behold from the gods wondrous creation
The power that helps us start, to begin
 
Catalyzing our own beauty and worth.
A worldwide reckoning seen ‘round the globe.
Shattering the myths, buoys spirits on Earth
Splendid rebirth glorious to behold.
 
We are mesmerizing and audacious
Sovereigns, liberated, and vivacious.
 
 
Yours, Lady Macbeth
by Mónica de la Torre
 
Spirits, I write, once topfull of cruelty and now hollowed out
but of blame, barely lifting my arm, so heavy it is
with exhaust and disgust at the filth still clung to my hands.
Sleepless I remain, except when roaming about rooms,
half-dead, apparition-like, possessed by remorse, as now.
I’d implored you to block its access.
You granted me a half-wish—only partially unsexed,
the idea of patricide deterred me. Who speaks through me now?
A man wrote my evil persuasion; my breakdown upon the bloodbath;
my fate, awayward, for I die offstage each time.
My leaving, the occasion for my husband’s most quoted of soliloquies.
Out of time, I scribble these words furiously.
Trust they are not nonsense.
 
 
Henry IV
by Jeffrey Sweet
 
“Shape up,” he says.
And sometimes he talks about how he wishes someone else were his son.
Yeah, and get this, that someone else is a traitor who is trying to overthrow him.
Swell.
 
“Take the stick out of your butt and enjoy yourself,” says the other.
He jokes and drinks and tries to boff anything that moves.
And he lies and he steals and exploits our friendship whenever he can.
Swell again.
 
I’m a figure who died in the early fifteenth century,
But, using the gift of foresight granted by the author of this,
I think of Freud (why not?).
You know, super-ego and id.
Guess who is which?
It’s not easy having two daddies.
When they're dead, I'll be free of them -- right?
 
 
TITUS POEM
by Carol Triffle 
 
Oh sacrifice be thine
Oh boo hoo you’re no fun
Get in the mood
Just a son divine
He’s gotta die
Blood galore
And he will be no more
Breathe no more
Just sleep, sleep, sleep
Deep, deep, deep
I’ll be emperor soon
Lop a leg you creep
It’s a barbecue on you
Come my new queen
Vengeance you lusty love
Soon you will be seen
You’re in the mood
You are my dove
Kill the brood
Revenge awaits
At the pearly gates
Cut off a hand, cut off a head
Kill the girl, kill the guy
Kill a fly
Serve a feast
Kill some more
End with more and more bloody gore.
 
 
The Tower (XVI)
by Emmy Potter
 
You who ignore the signs Nature does give
of rising tides and forests set aflame,
yet play God with how common folks must live,
so confident our Fates are not the same:
The Fool heading sure-footed off the cliff,
with eyes, like Icarus, turned toward the sun,
sees not their downfall will be ever swift.
(Weighty the crown you wear yet never won.)
In solemn silence, Justice sits and weighs
the measure of men’s actions on this Earth;
though she sees not, still none escape her gaze.
Her sword will surely parse out your true worth.
For oft when men fail to do the right thing
Justice and Mother Nature intervene.
 
 
Twelfth Night
by Kate Lutzner
 
Seven years to mourn, Olivia.
I will not hook up with another man
until you have left me, oh brother,
oh dear. I will lament you singly,
with my hands in my pockets.
Let me be free to love later,
despite rejection, despite complication.
Self-love is an aspiration, one I aspire
to. I have borne jealousy but not a child,
will die alone I think. Please, intervene
in my horrid thought, this tired combat
with words and emotions. I am finished
before I began, so many plans
taken up by my mouth.
 
 
Regarding the poems above, Steven Gaultney took his inspiration from King Lear; Anya Banerjee, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Malcolm Tariq, from Othello; Diane Mehta, from Hamlet; Will Eno, from The Winter’s Tale; Modesto Flako Jimenez, from Romeo and Juliet; Regie Cabico, from The Taming of the Shrew; Twinkle Burke, from Antony and Cleopatra; Mónica de la Torre, from Macbeth; Jeffrey Sweet, from Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2; Carol Triffle, from Titus Andronicus; Emmy Potter, from Julius Caesar; and Kate Lutzner, from Twelfth Night. Additional heartfelt thanks to Grand Little Things and Sacred Chickens who published “Kent After Lear” and “The Exchange” respectively, in support of this project last year, as well as poets Urayoán Noel and Ricardo Alberto Maldonado who also contributed to this project.
 
Drew Pisarra
Saint Flashlight Co-Founder

Rus Khomutoff, POINT OF PROMISE