Wednesday, February 06, 2013

365 Poems in 365 Days: Vamp


Interview With The Mortuary Attendant

We know exactly what caused her to die
Although Stephanie’s body’s now missing
Two puncture wounds on her inner thigh
Autopsy done, prepared for the blessing

Although Stephanie’s body’s now missing
The doors to the morgue are alarmed and locked
Autopsy done, prepared for the blessing
Even the air vent has a grill that blocks

The doors to the morgue are alarmed and locked
The room is unnaturally cold and dank
Even the air vent has a grill that blocks
And that only connects to the blood bank

The room is unnaturally cold and dank.
Two puncture wounds on her inner thigh
And that only connects to the blood bank
We know exactly what caused her to die


A group I sometime meet with gave out the theme Vampires. Here's what I wrote, which is number 25. And now some notes that completely destroy the magic, assuming it has any.

1. Once you have the lines "We know exactly what caused her to die/Two puncture wounds on her inner thigh" you have to write the poem. THOSE ARE THE RULES.

2. This is a pantun or pantoum.  My hope is that one day I will create the perfect one, in which every line appears twice, is always in context, and means something different the second time it appears. This is pretty good, if I say so myself.

3. The title is a reference to Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, except in this case we aren't interviewing the vampire, we're interviewing the mortuary attendant. So it's just, you know, there. Stephanie's body is a reference to Stephenie Meyer, not because I think she should be killed for her prose, god forbid, but because now she has finished her Twilight saga, and the films are out, perhaps we can just get on with our own vampires, and not always see them in reference to the phenomenon that was her body of work.

4. We're still in Meyer's shadow so here's my thesis (part 1); Vampires should be scary, even if you fall in love with them. Especially if you fall in love with them. Falling in love with a human being is pretty scary, so an immortal bloodsucker is even more so.

5. Thesis (part 2): Any sentence that begins "Vampires are about..." will be wrong, or at least incomplete. Nevertheless, vampires are about sex and death and the place they intersect. In this case they intersect on her inner thigh. Vampires should also be weird, and unexpected. That's why it's the inner thigh and not the neck. That's also why she's risen again AFTER the autopsy.

6. Thesis (part 3) vampires are also a metaphor for tuberculosis. Still, what would you rather read, a poem about pale coughing vampires, or a poem about people bitten on their inner thigh? I know which one I'd rather write. (Poem about Tuberculosis can be found here.)

7. That's more explanation than I intended, but I've actually presented this to two writing groups, who have been generally appreciative. As was pointed out, the only way to really change in would be to make it longer, so that the last verse is better connected. But then it wouldn't be this; flawed in that the last verse doesn't cohere, but perfect in that the last verse summarises the clues for the slow of understanding, or people who don't read afternotes.

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