They Write by Night, “Trump in Hell” — in this episode’s poem and, elsewhere, in life
Noir Now: Power and Corruption
Sometimes that “sweet smell of success” might be the scent you follow, follow… hither and — what comes next? oh yeah — thither, and never arrive at its source. Or else you find it, you seize it, it’s yours — everything you ever wanted, but . . . Somehow, it’s not as sweet as you imagined.
Take the guy who was till recently one of the most powerful men in the world, or at least he occupied one of the world’s most powerful positions. And he was rich as fk, still is, inherited millions to start with — then, mostly ill-gotten gains. Ill-gotten or shady. Or just plain smarmy. Faux high-class with a low-brow heart, that’s him. Now, he is not happy — no joy in that guy, no laughter, just impotent rage and self-pity. A dose of paranoia. Metaphorically speaking, he’s a pile of rotten fruit pulp.
The Sweet Smell of Success is also a 1957 movie with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, mostly written by the left-leaning playwright, Clifford Odets. Fabulous jazz score, composed by Elmer Bernstein and played by the Chico Hamilton Quintet. I woulda liked to have sent a little love their way, but we get dinged if we use movie music. Those damn algorithms. They ding us and they won’t listen to reason. Anyway, here’s the story — there’s this hugely successful man and this other one who’s scrambling after success, playing the game. They get what they deserve. But not what they wanted.
The Sweet Smell of Success, yeah–it’s a picture for our times. ‘Cause corruption and greed — for money, for power — never go outta style. And some people never learn.
This episode of They Write by Night offers the promise of Sweetness but, even better, it delivers SALT — the debut of poet Christopher Buckley’s new literary journal.
– Suzanne Lummis
Top image credit to www.Poetry.LA
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Lummis, noted practitioner and exponent of NOIR POETRY, unpacks a genre infused with the ethos of mid-20th Century hard-boiled fiction and crime movies, presenting examples from poets both living and “quite dead.” An influential teacher through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, Lummis produced a 2011 city-wide, 25-event series, “Night in the City: L.A. Noir Poetry, Fiction and Film.” Her 2012 essay “The Poem Noir — Too Dark to Be Depressed” (Malpais Review, Vol. 3, No. 3) is essential reading on the subject. Lummis was awarded a 2018/19 C.O.L.A. (City of Los Angeles) fellowship to create a series of new poems. Her most recent collection is Open 24 Hours (Lynx House Press). Her poems have appeared in three Knopf "Everyman's Poetry" anthologies, including Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem, and in The Antioch Review, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker. She edited the anthology "Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond" (Pacific Coast Poetry Series/Beyond Baroque Books) named one of the Ten Best Books of 2015 in the Los Angeles Times. (Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher)