Susan Terris

Take Two: Cross / J. Edgar Hoover & Clyde Tolson

it's 1975       pacing up and down       the River Styx
again       he Man checks his watch       he had expected
St. Peter       clouds of glory       he hadn't believed

he'd be sent here       in his pockets       coins
yet he doesn't want the Underworld
(swish pan)       who will select his double-breasted

suits       will buff his calluses and paint his toenails
who else to share FBI Fizzes       to sit near the riverside
tieless       talking legacy       Dillinger       the subversives

to chuckle at hints of Negro blood       (rushes)       of gay-ity
three years is a long time       but the Man crosses
                 commandeers a deck chair       waits

for his alter ego       bosom buddy       Tolson will
bring cash and a valise to J. Edna       (pace)
Hoover's a mess       his Garfinkel suit and Eleanor blue tie

though he brushes them daily       are threadbare
his underwear too       he needs
(shock cut)          new thongs       a black spandex girdle


Note: Clyde Tolson was the protegé & alleged lover of J. Edgar Hoover



Take Two: Kill Off / Auguste Rodin & Camille Claudel

                                                            always the other other
(ambient light)     her mentors     lovers     sculpted
beauty in a bonnet          the famous

molded her     (climax/anticlimax)     lyrical talent
world in clay     lost wax and bronze     hands
hers on him     him in hers     not chaste

but chased     erotic studio chaos     bronze waltz
slicked with fresh clay           in her kiln
still always that other woman     the wilted rose

he won't drop     Camille rages     melts his waxes
(kill off)     hammers his clay     spills slurry     baby
no baby     from her he stole     unhinged     she set

studios on fire     (new storyboard)     enter her brother
straightjacket     barred cell     never Debussy
no calm sea     traitors     no key     for Rodin

(framing)     Kiss     Burghers of Calais
his old Rose     for Mad'moiselle Claudel     30 years
locked in     (deep focus)     communal grave


This poem is part of a book called Take Two: Film Studies. The two characters here are two sculptors—one famous, one not—Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin. This book is due to be published by Omnidawn in 2017.


Susan Terris’ most recent book is Ghost Of Yesterday: New & Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk Press). She is the author of 6 books of poetry, 16 chapbooks, 3 artist's books, and one play. Journal publications include The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, and Ploughshares. Online publications include Blackbird, The Drunken Boat, and Diode. A poem of hers from Field appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. She's editor of Spillway Magazine. Her chapbook Memos was published by Omnidawn in 2015. A poem from this book, first published in the Denver Quarterly, was selected for Best American Poetry 2015. Omnidawn will publish her book Take Two: Film Studies in 2017.