Bloody Footprints

Bloody Footprints

the movie opens

on a busy sidewalk

someone with a knife

stabs a stranger

keeps on going

while the victim collapses

remember the knife

the flash of it

the thrust

blood blood blood

 

people stepping in it

as they step over the body

on their important way

bloody foot prints

quickly splotching the sidewalk

as the camera

pulls up up

the police arrive

the credits roll

over the expanding trail

of bloody foot prints

 

steps lead to smart shops

to offices

into elevators

down marble corridors

over carpets in hotel hallways

cafe floors

washroom stalls

 

blood gets on hands

trying to clean shoes

the fingerprints on mirrors

coffee cups

documents

dried flakes fall between 

keyboard keys

smear smart phones

traces tracked undetected through 

airport screening machines

splotches on luggage

the blood travels around the world

 

the sidewalk

with the outline of the body

is a pool of blood

after crime scene photos have been taken

after cellphone photos have hit the net

city works come to clean it up

 

the camera looks for the stabber

pushing through crowds

roving over heads shoulders

no faces

hands washing

blood pooling in sinks

almost dripping down the walls

of apartments

seeping out of TV screens

bloody footprints

lead up to a door

 

the bell rings

you reach to open the door

the closing credits roll

This piece is based on a real movie but I can only recall this opening sequence of the stabbing and the falling to the ground. I’m not sure if it didn’t happen as they were crossing a downtown street, rather than just walking down a street – people jostling in opposite directions. A car horn honking while another car drove around the body with a close up of the irritated driver’s face. All before the opening credits come up.

That’s all I remember of the movie. I have no idea who the cast is, what the music was like. The time area was early 80’s. The plot was, gasp, a killer targeting random people one of whom was his actual victim. American – probably United Artists – a studio that specialized in this sort of thing. Bumbling police with one detective needed to redeem his reputation by solving this case – which he does.

The rest of the piece after the first verse is my imagined plot. Some based on when I watched shows like CSI, some based on the real indifference people have been shown to show when violence happens – avoiding involvement. The blood becomes a symbol for the emotional effects of the killing. Those traces that remain, sometimes for decades, when someone witnesses say a car crash.

It becomes a list poem of where those blood traces travel, of some of the ways crime is treated now with cell-phone pics as we rush passed. The only difference her his that there are no reports asking people ‘how did they feel?’ But the movie camera keeps up the search. It is the detective following the clues. 

The poem ends in a way no movie can end – here you, the reader, get pulled into the both the poem and the movie. Sure the ending is a bit of a literary conceit and at the same implicates us in the crime in a fun way – what do we walk away from when shouldn’t. 

 

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October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 1 -30

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The Mummy

Kharis 

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

 

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

 

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

 

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendered to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the moon

reaching for release

 

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

This piece was inspired by both the phrase ‘tissue of lies’ and seeing Christopher Lee in ‘The Mummy’ 1959 – that was on TCM. The essence of the story is a man so in love he can’t stay dead. I saw it as an allegory for the notions we get wrapped up by our culture about what love means. How those wrappings confine rather than preserve and yet many persist in putting them on voluntarily.

There’s also reference to the ‘bandage solution’ in which the apology is supposed to be absolution that lets one off the hook. ‘I’m sorry for queer bashing you so please don’t send me to jail.’ Enough layers of ‘sorry’ and guilt gets buried.Here too I see the bandages as those things we say to placate others while we hide our real feelings – ‘I’m fine’ rather that ‘I’m fucking angry.’ 

In the Lee film there is The Scroll of Life that brings the Mummy to life – no moonlight tanna leaves in this version – one ritual has to be performed moonlight etc. The power of the word replaces the mystic of plants. The Mummy’s drive to protect and make happy the princess & goes about it blind to any damage left in his wake. 

Masculinity can be like layers of bandage, traditions & cultural expectation that men find themselves compelled to fulfill – a weight of history & unquestioned pasts that like the ending of The Mummy drowns men in a swamp of ‘oh i’m fine.’ Is masculinity a better option than admitting that entitlement can’t unravel the Scroll of Life. 

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Shelly Stoker

Two ‘horror’ novels that have inspired me are Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ Though I did not read them until after I had seen various movies based on them both. In fact I didn’t realize they were adaptations of novels until my late-teens. 

I presently have collections of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker on my Kindle. Getting compete works appeals to me as both of these writers have been reduced to their single hit – so reduced that often people don’t think they wrote anything else. Needless to say they did but nothing else captured the public eye the way their big hits did.

I have read the big hits a few times now, both recently, and also read some of their other fiction. I have to say I was both elated and disappointed. Brilliant plots, interesting characters but writing styles have changed so much I find myself slogging through the prose.

I found it hard to divest myself of the movies as well. The Frankenstein novel is structured as memory, as opposed to a action, we get telling. The language is often highflown romantic intellectually purple prose. There is no real Igor in the novel 😦 Plus the creature is rather articulate. It is the plot that holds together, where as the writing is annoying. Her other fiction, that I’ve read, continues this intellectually purple prose of the finest feelings of truest love.

Some of the same holds true for Stoker – Dracula is told as letters & journal entries – very much the style of the time. But every letter writer sounds like the same person. The grand chase scene is endless with a series of delays, snow storms etc to the final confrontation. Much of the vampire mythos is set out: garlic, wooden stakes, sleeping in coffins, & bats. Again too much telling. 

Movie versions have done well by both these basic plots and getting back to the original source material  to see where it all came from has been fun. Seeing how these big successes affected the lives of the writers has also been informative. Today we have the same high concept writing/ movie making where often the concept is frittered away by the telling. 

What inspires me is that the fantastic can be made real with the right world-building & consistency of concept. The authors were invested the reality of their creatures even if they failed to fully develop the character. If you haven’t read either of these it is time you did 🙂

Fiends

when we were fiends

there was nothing that didn’t excite us

the sacred hunger for the better blast

the color unseen

the uncommon lunge from fire to fire 

clumsily lurching from profane to evil

ugly became true beauty 

the more confrontational the surface

the deeper the meaning had to be

 

we would laugh giggle sneer

at those lunching on luncheon meats

not realizing we were the fiends

who made mockery of striving

up some corporate ladder

we would sweep past that boundary

we were going to create substance

that would last longer than the Beatles

have more cruelty than war

drink more blood than Dracula

we were the righteous vanguard

to take fiends into the next level 

 

we would stay up all night 

smoking toking stroking 

our eyes marbles in sand 

rolling our way through 

begrudging sunrise light 

to diners thick with fusty cozy fish smell

for crack of morning eggs 

swimming in blessed grease 

swearing we were bound 

heart to heart in our struggle 

against this culture that wanted 

to deny fiends proper place at any table

 

we tripped off to university

jumping courses in midterm

anthropology to comparative religions

seeking a way to alter 

the substrata of this messed up 

over commercialized culture

 

fiends forced to deal with

the mundane march of shoes to job

we wore the sheen of clock time

kept our fiendishness to ourselves

letting it out in mosh pits 

letters to the editor rages open stages

to keep the brain dancing

while we saw others melt into safety

 

we sit just out of the afternoon sun

don’t want skin cancer

no one wants aging fiends with lesions

waiting for our green tea to steep

looking with longing at sweets

at sweet young things

everyone is younger than yesterday

striving to be fiend of the moment

pierced bleached mohawked

wearing the sneer we invented

looking at us with the disdain

we copyrighted so long ago

even if they don’t recognize it

in their sacred lunge for the new

we are still fiends

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Revenge of The Tingler

The Tingler

as a kid

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

not that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go, you lying loser.

 

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to a movie I saw

where a sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

 

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no difference

 

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now 

was their lie

The Tingler is one of my favorite cheesy horror movies. The over-arch performance of Vincent Price combined with the primitive special creature effects and superb. The basic plot: fear creates a creature in the body that kills you – fear kills literally. This basic premise has been used time after time since but never, for me, as effectively. I’m also grateful there has been been a remake with CGI amping the scares.

I was a bad liar as a kid. But there were times when I was accused of something I hadn’t done but had no way of proving it and was instantly guilty under-pressure. Oddly when I had done something & got caught I could plead innocence & be believed. I learned at an early age that truth was malleable – in today’s political climate it is clear that the truth is irrelevant. It seems blatant dishonesty is considered a virtue. But I digress though I wonder about the values children are learning today?

I worked at maintaining an innocent point of view in the piece, even the sections that retrospective. Things that I was called did stick with me though my parents never called me a loser but certainly made it clear I wasn’t living up to cultural values they approved of. My fascination for teen movie magazines was called useless though. My crush on Haley Mills was seen as foolish, but it was safer than my affection for Tarzan. 

The things I was really lying about weren’t my actions but my thoughts. Thoughts that to reveal I figured would kill me. A fear that took revenge on me for decades.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet