Jan Bottiglieri

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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

(to) memory.

* * * *

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

(of course,
they first began doing this in Japan.)

Then full black screen, white

type(face): duality?

Everything seems significant.

The double letters of Harrison,

Emmet, Hannah, William,

Brion’s odd O.

That 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:

reverse, reverse,

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.

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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,

waste disposal

in backlit profile, haloed.

Then the eye fills the frame:

browngold, mutable

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.

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Chapter 8: Leon’s Hotel Room.

Champaign-Urbana, 1985:

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.

1-1-8-7 Hunterwasser.

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.

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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

(dear hereness)—

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.

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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)

that Deckard-as-dead-man’s-

pal (from the Sanskrit bhrata,

the Romany pral) would

take/give (this is before

the kill)

my brother’s name 

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Author Bio

Jan Bottiglieri lives and writes in suburban Chicago. She is managing editor for the poetry annual RHINO and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in more than 40 journals and anthologies including December, Rattle, DIAGRAM, Willow Springs, and New Poetry from the Midwest. She is the author of the chapbook Where Gravity Pools the Sugar and the full-length poetry collection Alloy (Mayapple Press, 2015). Visit janbottiglieri.com.