Cleaving film dialog


Samson’s short opening to the HBO series Carnivàle makes for a fairly easy “cleavage” along the following lines:

Example #1

Before the—beginning
After the—great war between
Heaven and Hell—God created the
Earth and—gave dominion over it
To the crafty ape—he called man
And to each generation—was born a
Creature of light & a creature of darkness.
And great armies—clashed by night
In the ancient war—between good & evil
There was magic— and nobility then
And unimaginable cruelty—until the day
The false sun—exploded over Trinity
And man forever—traded away
Wonder—for reason

Some cleave poets prefer a lower case format:

Example #2

before the—beginning
after the—great war between
heaven and hell—god created the
earth and—gave dominion over it
to the crafty ape—he called man
and to each generation—was born a
creature of light—and creature of darkness.
and great armies—clashed by night
in the ancient war—between good & evil
there was magic— and nobility then
and unimaginable cruelty—until the day
the false sun—exploded over trinity
and man forever—traded away
wonder—for reason

The lower case cleaves sometimes project a more modern style; either way the cleave opens up the 2 spontaneous vertical stanzas with sometimes uniquely refreshing verbal and linguistic word-structures like Burroughs’ cut-up method.

For example:

“there was magic
and unimaginable cruelty
the false sun
and man forever

Using such “found” filmic texts is interesting; but perhaps not as gratifying and surprising as original texts with the poet opening up the textual “immediacy” of his or her own poetry. Something I’ve done with the following fictional Eraserhead text:

Eraserhead (2009)

“oh, i don’t know much of anything.”
—henry spencer in eraserhead

scene 1

tonight is—eraserhead night
i try to watch it—every chance i get
every night—seven days a week
i like to—reward myself
after coming—home from work.
my miserable existence—needs it
a little entertainment—to keep me going
it’s nice to know—i’m not the only one
the only post-apocalyptic—working slob left
here in the—fucking universe
henry spencer—reminds me
things could be worse—a lot worse…

scene 2

it’s like—david lynch says
a guy needs a nightmare—to wake-up to
that’s what eraserhead—is for me
it gets me ready—for the next day
what better way—to do it than a nice
snarky post-apocalyptic—horror movie
i’m that kind of guy—i’m real neo-noir

scene 3

the i-5 freeway—it’s grid-lock
everyday—everyday after work
everyday i take a—sideways detour
down through—grim depressing
industrial parks—past old brick buildings
down south of town—past the dumpy
old rainier brewery—that now brews coffee
driving slowly—through narrow twisted
grimy streets lined—with tilting old red-brick
warehouses—and dumpy biker bars
it’s called georgetown—an old gritty pearl
down in the overgrown—oyster industrial zone
down by elliott bay—south of seattle
down by the—dumpy town airport.

scene 4

the afternoon winter sun—slants down
down on the desolate—nightmare neighborhood
the dirty freeway pylons—constantly vibrating
roaring with trucks and cars—motorcycles
heavy with insane crushing—rush-hour traffic
zooming by above us—making me feel
like a fugitive rat—escaping busy downtown
making me feel—insectoid and cockroach-like
scuttling my way—down through that lawn of
nice bermuda grass—in blue velvet (1986).

scene 5

you know the scene—i’m talking about?
that weird lynch-o-maniac—domestic scene
with the camera—burrowing way down deep
inside the bermuda grass—giving you the creeps
as if some alien creature—is living down there
invading suburbia—weaseling its way
down through all the—nicely well-kept lawns
all the nice well-kept citizens—there in all the
nicely well-kept—seattle neighborhoods

scene 6

and then there’s—this poor guy
who’s innocently—just watering his lawn
all of a sudden—he keels over dead
a surprise heart-attack—down he goes
he drops the hose—it still keeps spraying
the camera zooming in—down into the lawn
way down there—in the dirt and rootlets
way down there—where darkness rules
weird insectoid noises—from another world
how quickly suburbia—changes into Dis
when you’re—dead and dying down there
facedown in your own—lovely front yard
eyeballing it—face to face one last time
way down there—way down there deep
deep in your own—fucking green lawn

scene 7

the scene always—seems awfully weird
in a strange—sexual perverted kinky way
like having a heart-attack—making love
getting it on with—your wife or girlfriend
or simply doing it—to yourself?
dying while—squirting your brains out
what a way to go—but it happens
eraserheads are always—kicking the bucket
it happens all the time—that’s the way
that’s the way—i want to go
making love—watering my lawn

scene 8

everyday for me—is eraserhead day
especially coming—coming home from work
that’s when being—eraserhead comes out in me
that’s when i become—henry spencer my hero
the traffic is always—usually moving slowly
but that’s okay with me—i’ve got plenty of time
anything’s better than—freeway traffic up above
the mean inhuman—maddening grinding
bumper-to-bumper grid-lock—up on the freeway
all that crazy commuting—going on day after day

scene 9

i like to take my time—driving home
i’m not in any hurry—way down here
in the dumpy little detours—and side-streets
beneath busy i-5—way up there above
i don’t need it—to make my so-so life
into a rat-race—anymore than it is now
i’m just a simple guy—like henry spencer
taking my time—working my way home
thru normal—post-apocalyptic ruins

scene 10

i drive this—ratty little red t-bird
you know—the cheap ersatz retro kind
modeled after those—early sports-car days
there’s no way—i could afford those classic ones
from back in the ‘50s—when t-birds and corvettes
mimed the sleek imagination—that detroit was then
those postwar—streamlined aerodynamic days
so i like to pretend—i’ve got a little class
taking my time—tooling my back home
being the guy—i wish i was back then

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