Weegee: Self-Portrait with Speed Graphic
In this shot you’re mostly camera.
Weegee and his love you captioned the working print --
bulky, tucked under your chin,
it hides everything but your face and hands, neatly manicured
as a surgeon’s. Why am I surprised? as if shooting
all those cops and corpses were manual labour.
Bland and blank, round as the flash reflector,
your face says nothing
about the ambition that smoldered
like a tenement furnace.
You hardly look like the canny businessman you were.
You made death pay. Murders and fires,
you liked to say, my best sellers,
my bread and butter. Is that all that kept you
behind the wheel each night, the static-burred police radio
running down another shooting, another floater?
Count it 10 years; 10 years and 10 thousand negatives.
Even after you owned every front page,
and museums bought your pictures,
you made your nightly trawl through the Lower East Side.
Who cares if your later work was crap --
cheesy nudes and trick photographs?
Who cares what happened when you left New York?
You gave us a new way of seeing in the dark.
This poem appeared in Black Stars of Blood: The Weegee Poems (Main Street Rag).
Aaron Fischer spent 30+ years in technology and trade journalism and as an online editor at a news and public-policy website. His poems have appeared in Adelaide Poetry Review, After Happy Hour, American Journal of Poetry, Briar Cliff Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Crosswinds Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Tishman Review. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, as well as for Best Poetry 2019. His chapbook, Black Stars of Blood: The Weegee Poems was published in 2018 by Main Street Rag.
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