Even as a small child I had a macabre take on life. Not quite a Wednesday Addams, cutting my dolls’ heads off kind of outlook. I was easily haunted, yet I’d listen to every grisly detail of a murder or accident, then torture myself thinking and rethinking about the occurrence. So, writing about death and turning morose eyes on the world comes naturally to me.
To start, below is a poem I wrote about my attentiveness to murders while I was growing up. You’ll find more of my Halloween poetry here, and another poem in a 2007 blog post on Poetic Asides. In addition, here’s one of the spam prompts I used to do every Friday on Poetic Asides, this one tailor-made for Halloween.
LEARNING THE CITY BY MURDERS
I once knew the lay of the city by murders.
My childhood was full of them,
heavy aghast quotients, causing talk
among bus drivers, bishops, and carry-out clerks.
What newsprint maps and broadcasts
didn’t teach me, I filled in by quizzing adults.
Have I ever been there?
How close is that to the park?
Do we pass there
on the way to Aunt Gin’s?
I could give directions to Fairfax
by explaining how to find the corner grocery,
the last place the butchered four-year-old
had been seen alive. I didn’t know Kemperton
by the population figure on the welcome sign,
but by the number of family fatalities
the day the outcast uncle went berserk.
I still do it sometimes, reading
freeway exit signs without need,
blind to the familiar place names,
but chanting old lady
strangled in elevator
young girl run over
by nut in park
woman and children shot
by good husband, loving father,
pillar of the community
(fromt Rites and Observances by Nancy Breen, ©2004, published by Finishing Line Press)