IV Hollow Top: Alice Wilson
Lone pockmarks and hands,
His smile a snarl,
I met him on Vaudeville,
Where he directed me.
Met him on Vaudeville,
Drinking Laughing Water
Which is what he called Whiskey.
Smoking proudly, shoving cards
Underneath a sick brown belt
That snaked across a bone tight frame.
C’mere Alice, he would smirk,
Seething like some fast loose bobcat,
Burning sour fumes under his collar,
Arching his back in my direction.
Whimpering softly at first, then louder.
All at once, his claws would protract
And ache to lick my wounds.
Blacklisted from everywhere in 1924,
Blood-brown eyes that just stopped seeing,
Sinking in the levee couch,
Cursing with his singed blue lip,
I stroked him goodbye as he just bristled,
Never thinking beyond the bite,
Beyond his sandpaper fleece and stiffening ears.
Beyond his booming voice and roar.
I left him for a year
And hoped he would shed it all away.
V. Hollow Top: The Death Scene
White tile searing bright and charring,
A clean, pure clamp around Tod’s throat,
Mute and sick and finally cooling,
The searing Southern dirt distilled.
He tries to perform, to raise, to act,
But finds his legs have been cropped from the frame.
A freak at last. A death truncated by freedom!
A silent bathroom,
Cancerous as his face,
With dimples and holes like cut paper.
His crumpled form a return
To the damp nights of muddy sex
And fists of gluttony.
Back to polluted faith and dark loyalties.
To the aching taste of acrid metal,
As it twists around his young body,
Twinging with choices and cigarettes.
His first taste at sixteen,
In a tent with “Gypsy Paula”
Who was a grimy rose,
Decaying in his hand.
That’s when he left home.
That’s when the organ music started to sting him.
Tod Browning was an illusionist, aerialist, acrobat.
Killed two women, maybe another.
Was Vaudeville, when it was, what it was.
He kisses the faucet,
A metallic urge, so overwhelming.
The mercury skids down as his locomotive sputters.