Electric Review

Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

“On Robert Blake”

Earlier this month, Robert Blake was acquitted of murder charges in the death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. During these past 4 years, Blake has invested every breath and every dollar in defending himself against the largely circumstantial case the State had brought against him after Bakley was shot and killed in Los Angeles in 2001.

Now, just past 70, Blake is left to try and somehow resurrect his career — a career that began when he was child and then spanned decades of memorable characters and brilliant biting portrayals (of which “Baretta”) is but one.

This particular piece was written after Blake’s arrest, following a discussion I had with another writer about “Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.” The 1969 film contains some of Blake’s finest (and least remembered) work — a cinematic triumph of spirit and will this testament to one of the great Thespians of our times.

Finally, Eric Ward’s beautifully understated portrait captures Blake’s most publicly accepted face: in the shadows of “Baretta,” peering out through the walls of a cruel and stagnate future.

Original portrait by Eric Ward, © 2005. All rights reserved.

On Robert Blake

Looking into

The candles

Of your eyes


Men on trial


Hymns to ghosts


Into the

Silver candles


Your eyes


The whole

World burn

(Good Men)

Tried with ‘words’


The media

Of the wolf

(this animal)

Roams in packs


Cold television

Static dreams


Your photographed image

On screen

(it weeps)

The wings


The dying


The dead


Men tried

For their crimes


No proof

No evidence

No blood


Tangible with reason


You here


A prisoner

Of words


By ghosts


The courtrooms


The dead


The damned

(I saw)

You here


Electric phantoms across

Your mouth


Up the smell

Of old bone


The gasoline flames


This last

Living breath

by John Aiello

2003 & 2005


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This entry was posted on August 1, 2008 by in 2008, Artist Profiles, August 2008, Poetry and tagged , , , .
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