Chapter 1: Credits and Forward.
The future enters us . . . in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.
—Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Fast forward, reverse, the green
Ladd Company tree
makes and unmakes itself.
Dark book of the beginning: I am trying
to change my life.
Though I’ve watched the film countless times
since the first in 1982, this
will be different:
I try now to see everything, write it down,
my project, I call it. Run film forward, reverse:
I want to commit
* * * *
From Scott: I knew my opening shots
would be so spectacular that I didn’t want
the titles to upstage them in any form.
The green tree, line by line: dot matrix tech
from 1981 echoes back in
2018’s CAD/CAM replicators:
a 3D-printer can even create
a model of an unborn child
they first began doing this in Japan.)
Then full black screen, white
Everything seems significant.
The double letters of Harrison,
Emmet, Hannah, William,
Brion’s odd O.
the mouth of a caroling angel:
Those robed, frozen figures
with uptilted faces,
eyes lashed closed.
Everything seems significant.
More double letters—is it odd
most names here seem to have them?—
Joanna, Terry, Powell, Paull.
(I’ve wondered if Lawrence G. Paull was—is?—
related [that twin L!] to Morgan Paull,
our Holden, Deckard’s dopplegänger.)
The soundtrack’s fall as the crawl rises up
to meet it: I had never allowed for how
magical the music would be
says Scott on commentary. The red word
REPLICANT echoes the credits’
only other red: the film’s title,
BLADE RUNNER. I pause, reverse
to the beginning, watch again
to check my memory:
fast forward, stop. On commentary track,
art director David Snyder says
I wound up doing Blade Runner by default
and it turned out to probably be the only thing
that will be in my obituary.
Chapter 3: Emotional Response.
Not you, his mother: alas, you were not the one
Who bent the arch of his eyebrows into such expectation.
—Rilke, The Third Elegy
Crane shot: Holden smoking
In a shaft of blue light.
Sips his coffee, gestures
to the chair; sits, sighs, rouses
the VK. Leon—engineer,
in backlit profile, haloed.
Then the eye fills the frame:
as memory, an aperture.
Black bellows breathe in
Leon’s damp exhalation.
Child-curious: What one? How come I’d be there?
Holden, half-hearted, annoyed:
Maybe you’re fed up. Who knows?
On its back, the tortoise struggles, exposed,
the bloodrush echoes, the trapped eye snaps
open and shut, winking like an accomplice.
On commentary, Fancher and Peoples
argue who authored the scene:
one of the best lines in moviedom,
Fancher says, a Freudian line:
‘I’ll tell you about my mother!’—Bango!
Peoples: You wrote that.
Leon, bent forward, squeezes
the trigger: then liquid gush
as Holden explodes head first
through the blown wall. No!
Fancher says. Oh, I hope I didn’t:
For a long time now, I’ve enjoyed
disliking myself for not writing it.
Chapter 8: Leon’s Hotel Room.
I’ve taken a dingy efficiency,
my final semester, one room with bath
eight blocks off campus. Faucet’s steady drip.
I grew to love it—my little meals of
ramen and Coke; my records, photos, books;
origami I’d folded, strung above
the bed—and near the door, Rick Deckard’s face:
glossy, larger than life, there was no place
he could not see me. I loved the scrape
on his cheek, which I felt was real—that is,
Ford’s first, then Deck’s by proxy. A heal-need:
I was just off chemo, pale, prone to bruise.
Across from the Yukon, Gaff and Deck pause
in the future’s perpetual rain.
Steam from grates.
The busted fixture’s cicada buzz,
the scale like a dirty teardrop. The fingertip
lifting it to light. Deck’s hands dissolve
to Gaff’s crafting the crude man,
head ready to strike into flame.
Gaff must know Leon will see it.
And there Leon is, crossing
to a White Dragon, we hear
that same electric buzz
as he watches his own window.
Behind it, Deckard finds the hidden
photos, shuffles them like a tarot:
The Wheel, The Twins, The Pensive Man.
Memory—that broken god, that lens.
Chapter 25: Right moves.
“I always love working with anamorphic, because you have this beautiful fall-off . . . the pieces are sharp, Tyrell is just sharp, and everything’s falling away behind him.”
—Ridley Scott, commentary track
I try to recall my past ascensions. Nothing
comes to mind. Even birth: my first mother pushed so hard
I fell 10 days into the future and met my new mother there.
O holy elevator:
If I rode you I would shout
I’m coming for you, God! with my mouth clamped.
Now hearing the words of the game, I fall back
to the chess boys I knew, their sweaty hands slamming
the tops of the clocks. They could speak their games too,
move from memory: like Matt who’d play four boards at once
with his back turned. Fall back is a thing they may have said,
or attack, while I watched them play after school.
Roy plays the Immortal Game;
Matt must know it. His father
owned our first VCR. We’d drive to the liquor store
on Elmhurst to rent tapes. That’s what it was like then—
hard to find what we wanted to see. I can’t rely on
my memory but hearing Roy speak his moves I fall back:
we’re all having Cokes at Matt’s and Blade Runner finally
is in, J.F. and Roy ascend and I’m past-pulled rushing
down, farther and fast, past twisted fibers to warp, weft—
fine, immortal smallness
I’m re-minded, the words a kind of becoming,
that sacrifice strategy: everything rising toward
and falling back, white/black, what difference:
our fathers, mothers, gone, we know what comes next.
Chapter 27: No Way to Treat a Friend
In boyhood my brother:
blond and bodied for any game,
memories of green field run and pitch,
frozen rink flying after black puck my brother
could make friends, had that
high-school fame. I tried to learn
to give him his shot, never got the knack
(he didn’t like to be touched.)
I’d knot his ties for him on my own neck
and he’d bark out thanks before work.
But what is the body? Confine, cage.
His trap of rapid decrepitude.
His dangerous days and shit-list luck.
And when his mother (our
[only the good things]
mother) left this world, my brother:
skinsick, body-betrayed, said fuck that
and went right after.
So when Deck
—under copsmack and smoke,
parked in a car semi-stripped
with him in it; beaten, cheekbit
in the crook-shadow rain—
postures himself an old friend . . .
it seems right (remembering/re-
collecting the missing [body/story]
parts, even Frank, that shock,
all that was left unmade)
pal (from the Sanskrit bhrata,
the Romany pral) would
take/give (this is before
my brother’s name