The Sorrows of Sport & Iris

The first time I saw Taxi Driver (1976) was on the 13-inch television that the Italian lady gave me when I moved into the apartment below her. It didn’t have quite the same effect  as when I saw it on a big screen revival at Film Forum. It’s still haunting me.

The poem below is a byproduct of having seen it, and the accompanying photos are of the old Checker Cabs that don’t really exist anymore. My friend and I just happened to run into these as we made our way through the village towards the movie house.Travis drives one just like it in the movie.

In the poetry world, we call this an ekphrastic poem. It’s a poem based on or in reaction to another work of art. I’d like to imagine that Travis Bickle might have written this himself in 3rd person…that is, if he was a poetry kind of guy. And if he was writing about himself in 3rd person. Which he probably would do. Psycho.

For those of you who might not have seen Taxi Driver yet, the trailer’s above. At 30 seconds, that’s Travis in the driver’s seat, then Sport and Iris a few seconds later. And Betty, well, she’s “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Watch it. It’ll get you in the mood.

The Sorrows of Sport & Iris

(for Steve H.)

(Come to me Baby)
You ain’t no betty
but you want your Betsy
don’t you, Travis?
To wet the sheets with
to dry your war-tears with
& under that fine white

dress, sex (Baby,
I never wanted) acts, love
murmurs as the city murders
& politicks in the backseat.
Tick-click goes the meter,
with the itchy, trigger, giggle
of a man with a gun meant for

his wife. wouldn’t it
be nice, Travis
to have a life,
Travis? But she’s just like

(business, Baby) the rest
of them. But the messes
you’ll make, the wrongs
you’ll right! So what if
she’s not for you, man?
This .44 will do, man.
So what if you’re through,

man? Hit ‘em (square!)
inside the palm. Save
the city and the long lie
of a daughter undeserving,
as they all are,
of what’s coming,
what you’re bringing (Baby).

Aim it right, hold it (touch
-ing a woman who wants me
and needs me) true, Travis…
oh (How are you?) Travis…

Bonus – the soundtrack in the movie for Sport & Iris


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