Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (a Poem by Shenan Hahn)

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is Italian horror maestro Dario Argento's first film, and it's also one of his best and, relatively speaking, most normal. Though not as luridly violent as his later giallos, it is a highly entertaining expression of his visual style, already crystallized (if you don't mind the pun) at the beginning of his career: over-the-top and baroque while still maintaining a certain formal elegance. I think Shenan's adopted style perfectly pays homage to this.

Shenan notes that her poem is "in three parts, with each part from the POV of a different character,and written in a different form; first is the shaped verse with an iambic4-3-5-3-4 foot metric pattern and an abcba rhyme scheme; second is pureiambic pentameter; third is a seriers haikus."

Perhaps we'll try to squeeze in a viewing of our Blu-ray copy of The Bird With The Crystal Plumage this month so I can do a blog entry about it.

I. Guilia
This city’s still-born every morning. Rome’s
been baking steadily
for hours beneath the sun, and thirsting all
the while, she readily
accepts the day in kodachrome

but lies immobile, aches and waits
for all its souls to rise
and take to living just like her. We stir,
pour coffee in surprise
that we’ve awoken, fill our plates

with eggs in awe that such a calm
could show its face when it
had fled and left us here for dead last night.
For now the window’s lit
in gold, ensconced by morning’s balm,

but look- that candlestick! Still stuck
there like a stab wound, eye
inside the hurricane of radiating
cracks, the scars of my
attempts to free myself. I struck

the glass as he was hacking at
the door, but fruitlessly:
there was no exit, no redemption, no
kind God to rescue me
in righteousness. Last night I sat

here witnessing my death, the fight
a loss accepted. Now
I’m told to live again? Beneath that candle,
laughing at how
nightmares linger in the light?

II. Sam
That call- there’s something strange about it still
that haunts me. Something in his voice, perhaps?
Some pitch or timber that I recognize,
a certain brogue or telling turn of tongue
to place the man I heard?

That isn’t it,

it wasn’t him that struck me, captivating
though his homicidal chit-chat was.
It’s what came through between his words-
that noise! Like moaning crickets, menacing
and strange, like lullabies that howled outside
your window as you’d lay, the blankets tucked
around your ears, a child too young to know
just who or what composed the tunes that rocked
the streets at night.

That sound was crying

from the background, singing in a language
distant and entrancing, calling me
to rise as if I were a cobra, rapt
within its rhythms, to pursue it, run
it down, caress it hungrily, to speak
its notes and translate fluently, ease meaning
from its otherworldly aria.

III. Monica
Gallery at night.
Geometric harmony
in marble silence.

No sound can be heard
behind this glass. A turning
key locks in your screams.

Two pairs of olive
legs entwined. A milky tide
of cotton rising.

A half carafe of
Montepulciano left.
Radio playing.

A vigilant clock.
Pillows cold and stiff without
your head at rest there.

But all of this is
elsewhere, out among the world
that lives, even now.

No comforts for you
here, no soft loves, no warm wine,
no story telling.

There’s only you: held
by a knife, by a woman
you thought you knew once.


Elmer said...

Hi there, long time reader, first time poster.

I just wanted to say that I like this new addition of poetry from Ms. Hahn. It adds a touch of class to the October horror film festivities, and along with Mr. Prestwich's wonderful synopsizing of the films he watches, it makes for more artful and interesting reading. You two have done what most sequels do not; add something new and interesting into the mix. This is not a tired retread of last years Octoberfest, but instead its own full-blooded beast. It balances the familiarity of the format of last years entries, but with a new fresh twist. A commendable effort for the both of you.

Keep up the good work, you gruesome twosome you.

Dan said...

I sure do appreciate your comments "Elmer"! Right now I'm like 5 or 6 movies behind, but I promise I will catch up soon.

Shenan said...

Thanks Elmer. See Dan, you do have a readership outside your girlfriend, brother, and one friend!

Just a note on this particular entry: the formatting looks weird on anything but IE. So people (like me) trying to view it on Safari or Firefox aren't really getting the correct experience, but oh well- the words are the same.

Shenan said...

Damn. I'm actually still pretty fond of this. The Tourist Trap poem was kind of hokey and contrived, but funny because it referenced the crackers scene. This one's I'm actually legitimately not embarrassed of. And of course, the first poem, "Midnight Movie," eventually went into my thesis after some revisions, but it's easier to write a good poem about the general subject of horror movies than about a specific movie. I'm still proud that I kind of managed it here.