“The Action Star Unscripted” by Jocko Benoit

Jocko Benoit


for Bruce Willis

You might think all that is left
for the action star with aphasia
is the syntax of car crashes, punctuated
by explosions. In his movies, he crossed
cities, countries, space and time,
but the gaps between letters are now
terrifyingly vast. People mistake
his stoic silences for anxious pauses.
But he can read his family by how
they move and how far away/close they are.
He can read the front pages of newspapers
which are mostly ads with pictures.
He can turn down the volume
of the world and translate eyebrows
into their pleas and diatribes minus
the lies words sell themselves into
just to be heard. He can apprehend
a skyline filled with aspirational,
virile buildings corseted with walls.
He is not a mirror fogger. He knows
philosophers’ language has been shaped
by their lovers. Where he had quips,
his eyes and hands reach out. He spends
a little more time watching murmurations
of starlings—those seemingly unscripted
split-second shapes he is sure
are telling him something.

from Poets Respond
April 5, 2022


Jocko Benoit: “I’ve been a fan of Bruce Willis ever since his Moonlighting days. For a guy people say is a star but not an actor, he has managed to be in several very good movies. Rather than take a downbeat view of his aphasia diagnosis, I wanted to imagine a near future where he would discover all the other ‘languages’ that he can still comprehend.” (web)

Rattle Logo