The Poetry of James Franco

4.25.2014

By Matthew Breen

In his debut poetry collection, the actor and filmmaker meditates on Lindsay Lohan, Sal Mineo, Sean Penn, Marlon Brando and others.

Published this month by Graywold Press, actor and filmmaker James Franco's first poetry book, Directing Herbert White, is decidedly set in two worlds, his adolescence and Hollywood, but fame is the beast at its core. An excerpt:

Sal Mineo

I directed a film about the actor Sal Mineo.
Many people in the new generation
Might not know who he was,
Because he’s been dead since ’76.

My film focuses on his last day alive,
Because he lives his whole life in his last day:
He talked to his lover Sid on the phone,
About plans for the future;
He went to the gym;

He invited people, including Liz Taylor and Paul Newman
And Nick Ray to the opening of his new play,
P.S. Your Cat Is Dead;
And he went to rehearsal
With Kier Dullea of 2001 fame, and Milton Katselas,
The future guru of the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

In P.S. Sal played a bisexual burglar
That gets caught burgling an apartment.

Later that night, after rehearsal,
Sal was actually stabbed
By a real burglar
In front of his apartment,
On Holloway Drive.

Stabbed near his heart,
In the heart of Hollywood.

For a year they didn’t capture his killer.
So the tabloids said he was killed for drugs,
Or because he was gay:
A GAY LOVE TRIANGLE KILLING.
But it was none of those things.
None of those things.

Don’t worry, famous people;
Three and a half decades
Aren’t the limit of fame.
Sal fell out of favor long before he was killed.

He came out.
He got older.
He did bad films.
He couldn’t find work.
He did cocaine.

A down-and-out actor randomly killed.

I made the film,
It’s called Sal,
Because I wanted to tell about a life
That had lost its life,
And I wanted to tell it with love.

 

The book, published April 15, is available here.

 

Photo credit: Anna Kooris

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