Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Poetry and Literature of Horror and Terror
ON A SIDE STREET
by Charles Simic
If there are small shops
With illegible signs,
Don’t come near them
Or look in their windows.
Keep to where the sky can be seen
In its cloudless twilight splendor
Above the dark buildings,
Dark even on darkest nights.
If someone’s following you,
And he limps, and he’s got a watch
He puts to his ear smiling,
Run from him and his watch.
There’s a wide, well-lit avenue
Close by. Thousands have come out
Just to see you, though
They make believe you’re invisible
As you step into the light
Out of that dark side street,
With your face so pale
It seems powdered for a carnival.
by Carolyn Forché
What you have heard is true. I was in his house.
His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His
daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the
night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol
on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on
its black cord over the house. On the television
was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles
were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his
hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings
like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of
lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes,
salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed
the country. There was a brief commercial in
Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk of how difficult it had become to govern.
The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel
told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the
table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to
bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on
the table. They were like dried peach halves. There
is no other way to say this. He took one of them in
his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a
water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of
fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone,
tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He
swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held
the last of his wine in the air. Something for your
poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor
caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on
the floor were pressed to the ground.
by Miklós Radnóti
The roar of cannon rolls from Bulgaria dense and broad,
resounds upon the mountain crest, then hesitates and ceases;
the maned sky runs above; but recoils the neighing road;
and men and beasts are tangled, and wagon, thought and load.
You’re deep and constant in me despite this turbulence
and glowing in my conscience, forever still, intense
and silent like an angel when wondering he sees
destruction, or like beetles entombed in dying trees.
Nine kilometres from here, look, the haystacks
and homes consumed in blaze,
the peasants smoke in silence by the meadow
and huddle in a daze.
But here, the shepherdess leaves in the water
light ripples in her wake
and gently dipping down, her curly flock drinks
the clouds up in the lake.
The oxen slaver red saliva, people
pass urine mixed with blood, my squadron stands
disorganized in filthy bunches. Death
blows overhead its cold, infernal breath.
I tumble near his body. It turns over
already taut as string about to break.
Shot through the nape. You too will end up like that,
I mutter to myself. Lie calm. Be patient.
The flower of death unfolds in fear. I wait.
Blood mixed with dirt grows clotted on my ear.
I hear a soldier quip: He’ll get away yet.
(Oct. 31, 1944)
Prose: Edgar Allan Poe (Antarctica ftw), H.P. Lovecraft (Antarctica ftw), Paul Bowles.