Laurence Goldstein on “Rosebud” and Marilyn Monroe; and “Ask the Dust”

FROM “ROSEBUD” TO MARILYN MONROE: Laurence Goldstein as poet and critic / John Fante and “Ask the Dusk”

Many poets in Los Angeles have some connection with the film business. Harry Northup, for instance, has had an outstanding career as an actor and has a resume that includes significant roles in some of the most revered films ever made. He continues to blend the world of poetry and film through the production facilities at his current residence, MPTF in Thousand Oaks. Numerous other poets come to mind who also are embedded in this town’s best known cultural work, including Jack Grapes, Suzanne Lummis, and Michael Lally.

One of the most prominent advocates of the value of poetry that has been written in Los Angeles in the past 80 years is Laurence Goldstein, whose book from the University of Michigan Press in 2015, POETRY LOS ANGELES, considerably expanded the discourse between the worlds of film and poetry. Professor Goldstein has just published an essay on the impact that Orson Welles’s classic film, “Citizen Kane,” has had on the imaginations of contemporary poets. I would urge you to set aside time immediately to read this exceptional essay.

“Rosebud and Poets’ Fascination with Citizen Kane”:

(The above link, cut and pasted into one’s browser, seems to work better than the “official” full-length version of

The essay appears in Literature/Film Quarterly, online and open access.
VOL.50, NO. 2 / SPRING 2022 / ISSN 2573-7597

I would note, by the way, that this issue also contains an article on the film adaptation of ASK THE DUST, the classic novel by John Fante whose work has been championed over the years by a colleague at CSULB, Stephen Cooper.

Ask the Critic: Paratexts and Critical Reception of the Film Ask the Dust in the United States
Bruno Echauri-Galván (University of Alcalá)

In addition, I would like to call attention to a poem by Laurence Goldstein that was recently reprinted in the anthology, I WANNA BE LOVED BY YOU.
With his permission, I am reprinting that poem along with a brief introduction he composed but which does not appear in the book.

Arthur Miller As Muse
by Laurence Goldstein

Part of Arthur Miller’s legacy is the inspiration he has given to poets and fiction writers, who have borrowed his plots, his themes, his landscapes, the rhythms of his dialogue. What follows is a poem of mine that pays homage to Miller by versifying the narrative line of a short story he wrote in 1960, “Please Don’t Kill Anything,” a recollection of an afternoon at the beach with his wife Marilyn Monroe. The story is reprinted in Presence: The Collected Stories of Arthur Miller (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009).

UNTIMELINESS (after Arthur Miller)

They sauntered at shoreline, where the breakers fell,
pensive husband and glamorous wife.
Today, Sartre had it right: hell
was other people who preyed on their life.

Distant objects relieved the eye:
four fishing boats by the peach-
colored horizon, gulls in the sky,
and, suddenly, trucks on the beach.

A turning winch raised a net
bulging with fish, the sea’s produce,
and dumped for transport the ill-fated
thrashing creatures, a silvery sluice

of never-ending energy, flowing west
into the insatiable guts of mankind.
“They know they’re caught,” she gasped, in her best
movie voice, and he, resigned,

steered her from what was more heartless,
the workers heaving aside inedible
sea robins, their corpses-to-be an artless
mosaic on the strand: waste as incredible

to tender souls as extinction of species
or triage in the traffic and brute neglect
of displaced persons, gypsies, refugees —
fish out of water fishermen reject.

“Why don’t you put them back?” she said.
“Would they live again if they had water?”
Bending her beautiful body, she laid
fingertips on the day’s slaughter —

too slippery! He intervened, a hero
flipping junk fish to the waves,
one by one, back to a perfect zero.
He emptied all their sandy graves.

“They’ll live as long as they can,” she laughed.
“That’s right, they’ll live to a ripe old age
and grow prosperous,” he chaffed
her as they strutted merrily offstage,

he blessing her, hope in his eyes.
“Oh, how I love you,” she said,
thinking, For the moment nothing dies,
Nothing on this shoal of time is dead.

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