His Muse Friday
Bill Blake…..Michael McKean
[ shot in black-and-white, styled as film noir ]
[ open in the office of Bill Blake, Editor in Chief of New York Poetry Gazette ]
Bill Blake: [ on the phone ] Yeah, yeah, McCleaf, I know you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately! But this stuff’s just plain second-rate! I mean, come on! [ reads ] “The scent of her hair is of rain on the dust of her shoulders”? Not only is patently opaque, it’s not even iambic pentameter! Take another pass, and, this time, block that metaphor! [ hangs up ]
[ knock at the door ]
Bill Blake: Yeah? [ Wendy rushes in, nearly stumbling ] What rough beast sloshes toward my desk!
Wendy: It’s me, Wendy.
Bill Blake: Right. That was irony.
Wendy: What was?
Bill Blake: Uh.. skip it, sister. What have you got?
Wendy: Okay. Your attorney called – said he doesn’t think we can run the Wallace Stevens poem unless he’s dead.
Bill Blake: Unless my attorney’s dead?
Wendy: Unless Stevens is dead.
Bill Blake: Ah. Call Research, have ’em, uh..
Wendy: I did!
Bill Blake: Uh-huh? You did? He’s alive?
Wendy: Well, aren’t you happy for him?
Bill Blake: Ah, a shudder of joy runs up the trunk. What else you got?
Wendy: Uh.. W.H. Arden called, he still hasn’t been paid for the piece we ran in February.
Bill Blake: Tell him if God wanted poets to be rich –
Wendy: He’d be running a poetry magazine?
Bill Blake: Now, that’s irony! What else?
Wendy: Uh.. Edie Skipwell called, she’s on her way over to see you.
Bill Blake: [ alarmed ] What?! Why didn’t you say so! When’s she coming?
Wendy: Uh, she said in about five minutes..
Bill Blake: When’d she say that?
Together: ..About five minutes ago!
Bill Blake: [ shakes fist ] Why, I oughtta..
[ Edie enters ]
Edie: Well, well, well.. if it isn’t the late Billy Blake. Hi ya, tiger. Still burning bright?
Bill Blake: Uh.. Edie, Wendy. Wendy, scram!
[ Wendy exits ]
Edie: He’s murder on the secretaries, honey.
Bill Blake: Uh, not always.
Edie: Oh, yeah? There was a girl from Nantucket.
Bill Blake: Ah, she worked out okay. [ chuckles ] So, what are you doing here? Looking for a job, I bet.
Edie: [ laughs ] That’s rich.
Bill Blake: Yeah.. Sure, laugh thy girlish laughter, then a moment later weep thy girlish tears.
Edie: Ah, fat chance. I’m married now – the woman is perfected.
Bill Blake: Well, a little early in the day for Sylvia Plath, isn’t it?
Edie: Hubby likes Sylvia Plath.
Bill Blake: How is hubby, still insane?
Edie: As Robert Burton said, “All poets are mad.”
Bill Blake: And as Richard Burton said, “Honey, you’re putting on a little weight!” [ laughs ]
Edie: Oh. I’m ready with you sweetie, and completely untrue.
Bill Blake: Uh-huh.
[ Charles rushes in ]
Charles: Oh, gee, I’m sorry, Mr. Blake! I was looking for Wendy!
Edie: Ah, a little sweet on the girl, eh?
Charles: Ah, my heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains my sense, if that’s what you mean.
Bill Blake: Tell you what you do, Charles – take a cold shower. The hind that would be mated with the lion must die of love.
Charles: I hope not. [ exits office ]
Bill Blake: [ laughs ]
Edie: The same old bubbling touch with the hired help, eh, Billy?
Bill Blake: Yeah, yeah, yeah.. so what are you doing here if you’re not looking for your old job back?
Edie: Well, I got a hot tip, I thought I’d pass it along.
Bill Blake: Talk to me like the rain, and let me listen, toots!
Edie: Okay. Well, a pal of hubby’s, auctioneer by trade, washed up on the shore of our place this weekend, with a manuscript of unpublished Ezra Pound.
Bill Blake: Get out!!
Edie: Truth, like a bastard, comes into the world.
Bill Blake: Yeah, yeah.. Milton. Go on!
Edie: Well, if you’d like to talk to the guy, I can set it up.
Bill Blake: Baby, you’re the greatest!
Bill Blake: Gleason.
[ phone rings ]
Edie: Hadn’t you better get that?
Bill Blake: [ answers ] Blake here. Yeah.. oh, my God, it’s e.e. cummings.. e? e? e.e.? Yeah, okay, go ahead. Buffalo Bill’s defunct.. used to write a water-smooth, silver standing..
Edie: Nothing in this world becomes you more like in leaving it. [ gets up to leave ]
Bill Blake: Yeah, yeah, I’ll call you back. [ hangs up ] Edie? Edie, don’t go. Don’t you know how I feel about you, kid? This love should grow vaster than empires.
Edie: And more slow. No dice, Billy. At my back, I always here Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.
Bill Blake: Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying.
[ Edie exits; Wendy quickly runs back in ]
Wendy: Mr. Blake? Uh, you got a call from some guy..
Bill Blake: Wendy, come here.
Bill Blake: Give me those glasses.. [ removes her glasses ] Charles!
Charles: Yes, Mr. Blake?
Bill Blake: Charles, Wendy. Wendy, Charles. [ they stare intently at one other, as Bill exits his office ] I’ll give them a week!
[ fade out ]