Poet's Online Archive
scary movie

Scary movies. Like roller coaster rides that you feared and then went on again. A dark theater, the chill of air-conditioning, a friend nearby. Or the newer version - video/DVD while you hide under blankets & pillows on the couch. Whatever. Now, we know better. Right?

My Godzilla by James Richardson and Kim Addonizio's poem Scary Movies ( from Poetry - March 2000 ) served as our models.

What image does "scary movies" bring to mind for you? Was there a particular film that scared you? Still scares you? Can you recall a particular movie-watching experience... you know... babysitting and watching Halloween, perhaps?

Better yet, like Addonizio and Richardson, can you bring that childhood experience into your current life?

visit Kim Addonizio's Web Site

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Every afternoon the summer after fifth grade
Marcie Yesser and I played Monopoly in her garage.
Afterwards we'd race over to the dirt hill
by the pumping station and try to get boys
to let us kiss them.  One day we went to see

Invasion of the Body Snatchers instead,
a movie about pods from outer space.
Someone would put a pod under your bed
and during the night something
that looks like you would grow out of it

and carry your old body to the trash pile
for burning. People forgot their old bodies
and lived quietly, and were more polite,
became farmers who grew more pods.
The only pods I knew were the milkweeds

by the pumphouse, and I began to imagine my parents,
whom I already suspected of being vampires
so cunning as to be able to simulate life
during the day, gathering them by moonlight.
Every night thereafter I searched under my bed

with a broom and lay myself in a circle
of stuffed animals.  At my feet, the yellow octopus
I had braided from a kit.  Above the bed,
a courtship portrait of my parents.
But none of these were a match for the pods.

Each morning I woke up to a new being,
someone speckled with fine tawny hairs and blood,
a good girl rising to recopy her geography notes
and leaving behind something to burn
in the alley fire secretly and stubbornly mourned.

Mary DeBow

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Scary was fun way back when I sat with my friends
in the shabby grandeur of the Oritani Theater
and we held our breath as Joan Crawford
(trapped in the attic by wicked Bette Davis)
lifted the cover off her dinner and it was.....
Ahhhh!  We screamed and clutched each others' hands
and joked about that scene for days
just as we had after seeing "Psycho"
and everyone was afraid to take a shower.
Scary was also fun the day after "Jaws"
when I refused to go in the water at Seaside Heights
until my boyfriend pushed me in
and then grabbed my leg like a shark
and I screeched and jumped into his arms
and we rolled over and over in the water laughing.

I don't know when scary wasn't fun anymore.
It was like the thrill of riding roller coasters
giving way to dizziness and nausea.
The sounds and images
of horror and the macabre
began clinging to my consciousness
like bats to a damp cave wall
and could no longer be laughed away.
They seemed to reflect
the Stygian darkness of human nature,
fears held captive in the attics of our minds,
and innocence gone awry
like Baby Jane's broken doll in the driveway
and, like ghosts, they haunted me
by drifting in and out of my dreams
half scaring me to death.

Barbara Whitehill

"To Bette who gave me a gift
I have never been able to return."

Psycho left me pale, but I took
nothing away from the theater
except the incredible notion that
I could never shower safely alone.
But later when I was 19, I
would receive the gift of a
head rolling down the stairs.
That head has stayed with me
over the years and has peeked
out, popped up, and followed
me through darkened rooms,
often leaving my skin prickled
and crawling. It wasn't even
in color, but I remember it
that way and certainly there
was red blood on Bette's
gorgeous white evening gown.
All they had to say was "They
never found the head." But I knew
exactly where it was all the time.
It's in that strange unopened box
in the attic or under my bed or
just outside the tent in the woods.
I can never be certain where it
might make an appearance and
that beautiful but mournful nursery
rhyme of a tune keeps playing,
softly coloring in the background.
"Hush, hush sweet Charlotte,
Charlotte don't you cry.
Hush, hush sweet Charlotte
I'll love you 'til I die".

Karen A. Kimbell

Double Feature

It was never the movie that scared me.
Never the monsters, or creatures.
Those were stories
like the roller coaster was a ride.
The feeling in my stomach was real.
But that was all me.

But what if Harry Bailey never got to leave town.
What if Ben and Elaine had made the wrong choice.
People did end up like Ratso.
People missed their plane looking for a girl in a T-Bird.
Boo Radley might not be there next time to help.
You might end up really crazy like McMurphy

and what if you couldn't get out when the movie
ended, and when the screen went black,
lights didn't come up, and there was no one else
left in the theater. You were all alone in the darkness
and you couldn't look behind you,
but you could hear the projectionist breathing.

Ken Ronkowitz

the tingler

it's raining
not quite eight o'clock march 22 1969
i make my way through
the compound, the smell of jet fuel
fills the night air
i can feel the weight of the M16
rifle as the strap cuts into my shoulder
i stick the filter of my unfinished
cigarette into the end of the barrel
gotta keep the rain out; it might jam
in a fire fight i damn sure don't need that
as i open the flap of the tent i can see
i'm  already too late for a seat
even for a vincent price movie called the tingler being shown on a
sheet hanging
on a wall as a makeshift screen
this is entertainment vietnam style
i think to myself, what a bummer
standing in the door at the back of the tent i can barely hear vincent
saying to the young lady in the movie if you scream then fear cannot
manifests itself into a crab-like creature i call the tingler clinging
to the spines of it's victims; you must scream he tells her scream
to release your fears and the tingler will die
as the woman on the screen opens her mouth to scream suddenly i'm
between fantasy and reality as someone
shouts! incomng!  the scream grows louder; then the blinding flash
they were wrong you DO hear the one that kills you
the smell of gunpowder mixed with the smell of  blood
and human feces torn from the bodies
lying all around me almost takes my breath away or is it the fear?
then the sounds of the dying young men
who will never live to see
another movie ending three little words echo through my mind
even after all these years only three words mama-help-me; sometimes i
wake up in the middle of the night screaming; i guess vincent was wrong
after all;
the tingler never dies

ray cutshaw



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