The Odessa Steps

of course film lies
crops and cuts, freezes moments
immemoriably and stretches the simple
into the measurelessly implausible frame
by frame the movies go frame by an
impression in animation clicking
so decidely
so film lies so what
the image adjusted for effect
face just after verdict of guilty
the shutter too fast for truth
too slow for what is humanly real
the continuum lost, always, just
a parade of encapsulated segments
and the credits running by too fast
to really read, and, in fact, all art lies lies,
deals in parts, focuses on the apprehendible,
the message, the libretto–artists are liars,
finally, and
what is truth is impossible once the
image gathering machine encounters the symbol
making machine and even Joan of Arc was
shilled, was neither witch nor saint
was mostly the nutty guy next door
with real and crazy dreams come to life
and final nightmare, so, it’s hard,
the quest for the absolute and
indivisible lost in the continuous cold
drizzle of evidence, and it never ends,
and so someone, even you when desperate or
bored or just lazy, settle for, oh,
a beautiful shot of the then young Senator
turning to perfectly meet the camera
and looking so Presidential we all
wet our pants, the way we involuntarily
sob at our first encounter with Potemkin.
Even this.
Especially this.


Illustration  © James Conant

Illustration © James Conant


Jack Powers founded Stone Soup Poetry in 1971 and hosted the series for over 30 years, publishing over 100 books and journals. He passed away in 2010. Thanks to Oddball Magazine columnist James Van Looy and Out of The Blue Gallery volunteer Laurel Lambert for recovering this poems from Jack Powers’ papers shortly after his death.

James Conant is a Cambridge artist who was a primary illustrators for the online journal Spoonful.