The Day Brando Died (Ode to the Apocalyptic Godfather) A Poem by Michael P. Naughton

The Day Brando Died (Ode to the Apocalyptic Godfather)

I was with my friend Michael Madsen

the day Marlon Brando died. 

I wanted to help him out as a poet

when I once worked for a place called Borders —

            Will anyone remember Borders?

Amazon would like us all to forget.

I met up with Madsen in Woodland Hills in the Valley.

A girl named ‘Honey” was the hook-up. 

She knew and introduced

us to the producers of a Persian television station and publishers of a magazine

          for celebrity and poetry interviews.

          This was the day Brando died,

             Forever now immortalized.

Remembering Brando in The Fugitive Kind,

Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire,

Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront,

Don Corleone

and The Wild One.

On this day, even Bukowski would certainly agree:

“It’s strange when famous people die…” 

— Especially a day like this day when Brando died,

Forever now immortalized.

Yes, “even the sidewalks, children,

curtains and cars look different.” 

But oddly enough, I seem to reflect on two

things most about Brando:

            1) His refusal of the Academy Award in ‘73

             for the mistreatment and portrayal of

American Indians

             in Hollywood,

 politicizing the Oscars in perpetuity.

            2)  When he refused to swear on a bible during

             the murder trial of his son Christian who killed his sister’s

              boyfriend Dag Drollet —

            Brando claimed he failed as a father. Christian did time. Cheyenne hung herself…

“The Horror, The Horror…”

Meanwhile, back in the control room, watching behind with the network,

Madsen was about to go live over The air, Middle-East and everywhere,

I sat back with the producers. They wanted to use the now overused

and all-too famous Mr. Blonde “Stuck-in-the-Middle”

torture scene with the cop.

I asked them not to on this day that Brando died.

This was circa ‘04 and at this moment in history when gruesome

and barbaric images of beheadings

of Americans in Iraq were daily news.

We were there in Woodland Hills to celebrate poetry after all,

and the poetry of life should be the reason any of us are here.

Hollywood plays and pretends and portrays to that end.

But the terrorists play for keeps and

kill and destruct

and desecrate

everything you once loved.

No acting. Just psychopathic casting in a film

we can’t unsee

and can’t refund the ticket.

Brando, always the rebel,

refusing the conventional God

I imagine might probably ask, “Where is God in all this

moment of agony or certainly…

The Horror, The Horror…”

He certainly would not swear on anything

but his children and grandchildren.

But I wonder,

now that he is gone 

Was he all wrong?

This Wild One.

What was he rebelling against?

“What do you got?” His cinematic ghost whispers back.

Famous for once acting in Hollywood

where a pretend prop severed head of a prized thoroughbred,

left in the bed of on enemy —

A brutal and barbaric reality we now face,

Yes, Don Corleone…

            “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

Littlefeather rejected his Oscar at Brando’s request,

Handing Oscar back to Sir Roger Moore.

Cut To: A different scene in time. 

Violence. Play acting again.  This time Reservoir Dogs.

No, I told the producers. Let’s use another scene.

The one where Mr. Blonde meets Nice Guy Eddie

in the office of Big Joe,

Then we will talk poetry and celebrity on this special day,

            The day Brando died.

Forever immortalized,

The Apocalyptic Godfather.

Brando and Poet James Baldwin also come to mind,

as I watch from behind in these

troubled times

where Staggerlee still wonders…

© 2022 Michael P. Naughton from the forthcoming poetry book, The Shores of Madrid