Electric Review

Culture & Criticism Since 2003

“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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