The Late Show
Turtle Point Press, 2007
Before cable television, streaming video, and all our other electronic ways of watching movies, there was the late show on Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. It was a treat to stay up late. I remember watching “A Summer Place” with my mom until 1 a.m.
David Trinidad’s collection The Late Show uses popular culture and movies in particular to write about his mother, friends, and movie stars.
The first poem “The Late Show” recalls those movies.
Natalie Wood, in the middle
of reciting a Wordsworth poem,
bursts into tears and runs out
of the classroom.
Julie Harris hears Hill House
beckoning, beckoning. Geraldine
Page begs Paul Newman for a fix.
Trembling, Ingrid Berg-
man watches the gaslights dim.
In “Watching the Late Movie with My Mother,” he writes:
It was our special time:
just the two of us
alone in the family room
on a Saturday night,
everybody else—my father, brother
and two younger sisters—
asleep in the back of the house.
She reclined on the brown couch;
I was sprawled on the carpet
in front of the TV, totally
absorbed in the drama
on the small screen.
“Classic Layer Cakes” is also a memory about his mother. He writes about his mother doing the universal 1950s/60s role:
“My mother in her frilled apron, dusting and vacuuming sweeping and moping rinsing, scouring, scrubbing.”
“perusing The Brand Name Calorie Counter at the check-out stand. Folding her receipt and green stamps into her purse.”
“When we were sick she’d bring us Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, saltines, and ginger ale on a TV tray. A rerun of I Love Lucy was also medicinal”
In two poems, he describes his mother’s battle with cancer.
"The day she died, my mother divided
up her jewelry, placed each piece in Dixie
When we placed the last ring in the last cup,
she looked up at me and said, “We never
have enough time to enjoy our treasures.”
In “Classic Layer Cakes” the poet tells his mother, as she lies dying:
“Thank you for being my mother. I love you.”
“You’re onto the next journey. God be with you.”
“You’ve done a good job, Mom. You can let go now.”
At one point, the poet writes in “Classic Layer Cakes”
“I wish I could do this memory better.”
The poet doesn’t have to worry, he writes a beautiful memory. Any reader growing up in the same time period can recognize his/her mother in these poems.
Trinidad is a Barbie doll collector. There’s an interview about his doll collection on
the Poetry Foundation website. (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/article.html?id=180916)
In “Doll Memorial Service” he describes how dolls die:
There are many ways
a fashion doll can
die: chewed limbs, split
neck, ponytail snipped to
the hair plugs.
“A Poem Under the Influence” begins, “I dreamt of Barbie, or to be precise, a Barbie outfit: a big pink gown that came with unusual shoes; clear plastic half shells…”
He writes about so many of my favorite things:
His nod to Plath, “I am typing on pink paper in tribute to Sylvia Plath, who wrote her great poems
on “pink, stiff, lovely-textured” Smith College stationary….”
He writes a list and description of the “movies that scared the hell out of me when I was a child.”
Trinidad also honors his friends, Joe Brainard, Rachel Sherwood, Tim Dlugos and James Schyler.
In “A Poem Under the Influence,” he writes:
“At the end of fourth grade, I asked a substitute
to sign my blue autograph book.
I threw the book away; I wish I could include her name. But I’ve never
what she wrote: “David, you are an unusual boy. May it continue into adult
Fortunately for us, it continued into adult life.