Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Hollow Top

Vagabond dirt streaming solid,
Erasing all the Louisville hymns
And lucid verses and bleeding sermons
That are emblazoned
On the corners of his mouth,
Caught between his dusty mustache
And his tinted teeth, blotted yellow.
His faith becomes
Gangrenous and sallow,
As the coffin lid closes shut for the crowd.

Once named Charles, now named Tod.
Once the choirboy, now the gin-laced orphan.
With no name but
“The Hypnotic Living Corpse”
Who eats malt balls in a coffin for money.
48 hours underground,
In a new Steel shell,
Glossy against the thrashing dust.
Flickering silver, then brown.
He grips the sides
And listens to the cackling fairground
As it pulses with the weighty steps of the limbless.
Tod knows that the forgotten tread louder than the rest.
He’s seen albinos and dwarves and giants.
He’s known
Gypsies and geeks and even
A wild man from Borneo.

Tod Browning
Will be an acrobat, aerialist, illusionist.
Will be Vaudeville.
Performing with makeup caked over his frayed mane,
Over his mottled skin and his smoking laugh,
He will kill two starlets
Speeding from The Vernon Country Club
Only he won’t free himself from his tomb in time.


It’s a miracle!
Resurrected for the sake of sound,
For the whinnies and squeals of
Scandalized children, who drop their peppermints
And stare as Lazarus forges his way
Into a burnished new America
Full of Moving Pictures
And dirt.

I wrote a series of poems based on the life of former carnie and raging alcoholic Tod Browning, who wrote/directed "Freaks." I thought I would share now that I am not giving shits anymore.


minimonk said...

Awesome poem! The poem tells a vibrant and vivid verse narrative- oops I am trying alliteration like the Beowulf poet. your biggest fan

Ali Fitzgerald said...

Thanks minimonk. You're not alone, alliteration allows Ali to alleviate her auditory ailments.