Michael Karl (Ritchie)

The Exiles
(1956) 15 Min. Using Czeslaw Milosz as an example, this short studies the effects of enforced exile upon significant artists from Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
They took away the color of your eyes and left me
this cubicle. What are eyes, anyway?
Color's so subjective, even white
walls gradually acquire texture.
Oleander never blooms here. Vodka
tastes flat as their coffee, and silence
has a meaning different from money
that changes color without notice.
Heaven is a walled-in garden. My fingers
point toward what array of names:
the bride's maze; the well-flower.
Only orchids could we both have agreed upon.
Behind shades, I watch the plane-tree
snow more numerous than bullets
things that do not register sound
or whose sound has changed to all but me,
exiled from a land where words had power,
to a land where words drown words.

Instruments of the Orchestra
(1965) 22 Min. A contemporary British composition serves as an example to
demonstrate the various instruments in this British orchestra.

The mezzanine is full of ragweed
acknowledging you. You sneeze,
trip over your cello, and fall.
You try strumming normally, hack
and cough at the conductress. She asks
if the tempo is satisfactory.
You gawk through your glasses at her nose
of noses. Her nostrils flare overhead,
exhuming stagnant subtleties. You notice
the conductress is not longer waiting for
your answer. You hold your ground. Above you
some melody shrieks and wheezes. Your sneezing
echoes throughout the pavilion. Someone else
is arriving in the pavilion: you can sense
his hysterical screaming, his velocity, his nose
falling like a piano. The conductress suddenly
is flattened by a bellboy: they
splinter the pavilion to pieces.
After the inquest, atonal and entropic, you
confiscate, then catalog all of the noses.

Pope Paul Visits America
(1965) 55 Min. Opens with the pilgrimage of Paul VI to the Holy Land and India, followed by his New York visit in October, 1965. Highlights include prayers at St. Patrick's Cathedral, peace messages at the U. N. meeting with President Johnson, Mass for peace at Yankee Stadium, and the visit to the Vatican Pavilion at the World's Fair.
The lobby is full of cellists
staring at me. I clear my throat,
walk to the desk and register.
Everyone begins speaking again.
I try breathing normally, smile,
and tip the bellboy. He asks
if the room is satisfactory.
I look out the window at a garden
of hedges. A plane circles overhead
dropping shredded paper. I wonder if
the bellboy is still waiting for
my answer. I turn around. Behind me
the moon rises and stares. My shadow
lengthens across the room. Something
else is in the room: I can hear its
heavy breathing, its hooves, its wings
flapping like a calliope. The bellboy
returns with the photographer; they
drag the thing from its corner.
When I rise, bloody but full, I bless
then autograph all of the pictures.

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