Poecology

Issue 3

 

 
 

Kryssa Schemmerling

 

A Natural History of Cinema

 
 
                        for Ben Wolf
 
 
West Orange. Edison tinkers
with currents and Kinetoscopes,
builds Black Maria beamed
only by sunlight, his voltages
high enough to fry
an elephant called Topsey,
not enough to nudge
sluggish emulsions to life

even as a new species emerges
from oil and gaseous murk, circles
slowly in place at the center
of Cycloramas. Earth
doesn’t turn yet. Foot candles
are scarce, focus
shallow, but somewhere
in New York
Edwin S. Porter discovers time

can be fractured, bent,
re-shaped. Elisions beget
collisions. Worlds,
real and imagined, fuse
in Romance of a Jewess.
Florence Lawrence escapes
a tenement tableau, fly
walls, painted flats static,
slams the door
on a Biograph backdrop, dashes
into the actual

Lower East Side, 1906, disappears
into mobbed streets past
pushcart peddlers. Puzzled, they stare
Griffith’s camera straight
in the eye.