Lobby, Noir Poetry & Fiction

A dead man walking…

man with a horn 1950 A dead man walking...

“These city streets are poison. You walk and walk and they take you down. Down and out, a scrap of yesterday’s news swept into and out of the gutter by malevolent fate a dirty wind. You had all the angles tight. All settled. But that suitcase breaks open and those pretty dreams are strewn on the pavement just rags defiled by the grime under your shoes. She said she was with you. When was it? Yesterday or a thousand dead years gone? Stilettos as sharp as a flick-knife and as dangerous. Those eyes were not mysterious only jade cunning. She lied as she connived as she made love. You sap! You bought it and retail! My last cigarette. Inhale the smoke and numb the pain. Prove that you are still breathing. It’s dark and it’s cold, the streets slick with the last shower. Pull down your hat, turn up your coat collar, no-one knows you behind a week’s growth of beard. The concrete is jarring, every sorry bone in your body aches, your stomach growls, and your head spins. I need a shot. Down to my last dollar. The fur in your mouth is choking you. Bad times. Old times. Is it now or yesterday, or is it forever? A dead man walking.”

8 Comments

  1. Hi! Tony,
    A dead man walking…Translation: He has nothing as to live for? His days are numbered. His time is up. What a very interesting concise descriptive piece.
    However, I wonder do women sometimes suffer in the world of…film noir?

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;)

  2. Yet another thematic consideration of that incomparable cinematic genre known as “Film Noir.” I think of Jules Dassin’s films, with their almost stifling realism as i read this, but there are elements here that recall Ulmer and Dimytrk as well. The descriptive prose is simply stunning, regardless of the cryptic point of reference, but I would certainly like to know if you had an specific film or films in mind, or whether this was a general treatment. If the latter it’s a remarkable piece.

  3. Hey DeeDee. Fair point on femmes noir. I was writing in the first person, and don’t know whether I could convincingly write as a dame ;).

    Seriously though, while the femme-fatale is dominant in noir, there are noir anti-heroines. Interestingly though, in film noir the inner thoughts of male protagonists are rarely expressed, while women are more often given an expressive outlet. I am reminded of this line deftly delivered by Barbara Stanwyck in Fritz Lang’s Clash By Night:

    “And we’re tough, we’re hard? And if someone suffers because of us, that’s just too bad? That’s the way life is? Huh. How many times have I told myself that. Nothing counted but me. My disappointments, my unhappiness… I thought I was being honest. I thought I wasn’t lying, but I was. I said to the world, this is what I am, take me or leave me, so that it was always on my terms that they had to accept me. But it was a trick. Can’t you see Earl? It was a trick to avoid the responsibility of belonging to someone else.”

  4. Thanks Sam!

    I had no specific movie in mind. I had a kernel of a thought when I started writing the piece, a guy walking down a noir city street, and it just developed as a stream-of-consciousness thing. As you point out there are many scenes like this in noir, but few if any give us access to the thoughts of the protagonist.

  5. Nice descriptive mood driven piece Tony.

    Your line below is every noir sap ever put on celluloid.

    “Pull down your hat, turn up your coat collar, no-one knows you behind a week’s growth of beard. The concrete is jarring, every sorry bone in your body aches, your stomach growls, and your head spins. I need a shot.”

  6. Thanks John!

  7. kilgortraut

    there is something mysterious about noir, it always works on all levels: visual, sound, story… you just cannot get tired of it. it’s like you meet an old friend, the only person in this shitty world who understands you, feels you…

    this piece is poetry of the dark side, noir poetry

    it’s fucking great, Tony

  8. Thanks kilgortraut – you know noir!