Spooky Poems for Halloween by Michael Benedikt
Eerie, ominous, & grisly poems mostly from THE BODY, Michael Benedikt's first book of poetry (Wesleyan University Press, l968). l998/99 revisions & selections.
(1) The Helper (2) Mr. Rainman (3) To Persuade A Lady
(4) Some Old Men (5) The Debris of The Body (6) The Wings of The Nose
& (7) An Afterthought About Autumn: The Autumn Villain
NOTE: "To Persuade A Lady" is from Benedikt's
second book of poetry, SKY (Wesleyan, l970).
It's a scary love poem, a new literary genre originated by Benedikt, & developed in some later Benedikt books
Click for Brief Benedikt Biography
Click for Note on Themes/Types of Poems in THE BODY
To be helpful
To lift up someone's eyelid at midnight
To observe their lack of vigor
To grasp them by one arm and drag them out of the room and downstairs
And dress them in an old oilskin against black insects in the hall
Then to drag them down the front flight of stairs
And put them in the trunk of the car, afterwards locking it carefully for safety
Then to drive them out to the country
Down all those dark, deserted roads, with only the black night butterflies alert
And there, in the country, to find a quiet, relaxing place
Perhaps on a knoll or in a field or under a bridge with the water tricklings
writing maledictions over everything
And to bury them there
In the oilskin
With the insects still keeping their distance
And to bury them deeply and undiscoverably
--To be this helpful
Is unappreciated, often.
In the rain, an angry outcry: 'Get your hands off my trickling
A damp rug
my chilled hands
Show that we have a rather sinister visitor:
in a soggy grey coat
And shoes that hiss on the diningroom table
We thought he simply needed a shave but that shadow on Mr. Rainman's cheek
actually meant that he was almost completely covered with mosses
and various other greens growing there...
O my pink-cheeked, innocent young daughter
O my daughter in your ancient but hardly yellowed white pinafore
what are you doing peeking at him at midnight through the skylight?
& then sliding down towards him
straight down the bannister
You stand out enough!
TO PERSUADE A LADY
True, I have always been happy that all the things that are inside the
body are inside the body, and that all things outside the body, are out
I'm glad to find my lungs on the inside of my chest, for example; if they were outside,
they'd keep getting in the way, those two great incipient angel wings; besides,
it would be messy
I mean, how would it be if your reached out to shake someone's hand
and there, in the palm, were a kidney and a liver complete with spleen?
Can you imagine standing at 5 PM in a crowded subway car full of empty stomachs?
What if a nice, nearsighted old lady were knitting socks and suddenly
her veins fell out? How would she avoid creating a substance full of strangeness
To the barefoot country boy sitting on the edge of the bed in the morning
and opening Aunt Minnie's gift box, the sight of those socks would be
what he'd call 'a real eye-opener!'
And what if our voices touched? If our mouths went out, instead of in?
If you were inside of me; or, at least, if I were inside of you?
SOME OLD MEN
Nobody understands why these indigent sweepers keep showing up exactly
Every evening at the edge of the Tuileries
To sweep the garden with sweeping equipment of past days
Their eyes are dim their hands can barely grip their brooms
Faggot brooms bound with old rushes and things
And they chatter with excited gestures
And should a lady go by wearing only stockings, high-heeled shoes,
and a grey fur coat
Beneath which is the remnant of a frock torn partly to shreds
They smile at her understandingly, and then begin to whistle innocently
and stare up at the sky...
Companion of my days, companion of my evening secrecy!
Oh this must be our favorite spot in the Tuileries--
Shaded and calm and only slightly dusty...
THE DEBRIS OF THE BODY
The debris of the body is piled up all around the foot of the statue,
and is also scattered
around the landscape.
It starts on the statue's shoe
And then thins our until it comes to a river, where light debris drifts, and heavy debris sinks, hitting a fish on the head.
The picturesque little town is nestled in a peaceful valley, then the debris of the body comes and covers it; now it nestles under ten feet of garbage.
A photographer was photographing a lovely mountaintop locale, for a liquor-store calendar, until the debris of the body came and smudged the lens, blurring the
photo, inundating the photographer
A grizzly bear climbs a tree to escape its flows
Like a decade's lemmings--if they were a whole lot slower--or the tides themselves,
it creeps down to the sea. The light debris drifting, the heavy hitting some other
fish on the head.
There, the sea is inundated with the flower of fallen hair, worn skin, fingernail parings,
nose pickings, oozed blood, used sperm (love's leavings!), annoying old scabs,
tears accidentally escaped in wind, tears meant to be wept, the nether wastes,
the shit and piss of the skin, superannuated wart parts, etc.
THE WINGS OF THE NOSE
The wings of the nose
I sense them fluttering
Making a passenger
Out of the whole olfactory system
While the brain flies along just for fun
Where are you going, O wildest of widely wandering wings
Where are you taking us, my Sweetie and Me?
"I am taking you someplace where you will like it
I am trying to find a place where you can rest
and enjoy the most important sense of things
of all, which is mine.
Haven't you given up other pleasures yet?
Touch, which is just an irritation
Taste, which I view with distaste
Hearing, which is designed simply to put a strain on you
Sight, which is something I have never quite been able to see
Just in case you haven't yet abandoned them
come with me now
aloft in my own sensational flying machine
Spend all your time
Wandering with me all day long, not to the places you want to go to
but to the places you can't resist going to
Let your schedule of appointments be organizing by waftings
O follow follow
So you will say
At the end of the day
'The odor of decay
Is the best and the strongest and the sweetest
--Even the smell of fire on bone
And rich earth'
About The Halloween Season, Autumn, & Fear of Winter
THE AUTUMN VILLAIN
The villain crept by on the slant
towards the Southwest
and the sunset
With his shadow lengthening, and following behind him
The brim of the enormous black hat he wore was pulled down
over his eyes, his nose, and his mouth
As if to predict
Days to come when he would have to travel
in almost total shadows
To make up for all his glaring summertime excesses
--Penance for both his suns and his sins
Big brim! It sloped down and even scraped the ground
And when the wind came, draped over the tops of trees
And an investigator
Trying to peer into his eyes
could see only leaves....
Earlier versions of "The Helper," "Mr. Rainman," "Some Old Men," "The Debris Of The Body" "The Wings Of The Nose" and "The Autumn Villain" first appeared in THE BODY, by Michael Benedikt, published by Wesleyan University Press, l968. © l968 by Michael Benedikt. These revised versions, © l998 & © l999 by Michael Benedikt. Earlier version of "To Persuade A Lady" first appeared in SKY, by Michael Benedikt, publ. by Wesleyan U. Press, l970. © l970 by Michael Benedikt. Revised ver., © l998 & © l999 by Michael Benedikt
If you enjoyed these Spooky Poems from THE BODY--and entered this 'site for all seasons' at this Halloween-page--for some other, rather unusual selections from THE BODY which you might like
Note on Themes/Types of Poems in THE BODY
Topics which appear in THE BODY include:
The Four Elements (Earth, Air, Water & Fire)
Childhood & Youth & Growing Up Gardens
Time Space Spirituality Philosophy Business Social Concerns Esthetics
Film & Theatre l960's Art & Artists & Rock Music
Types of poems which appear in THE BODY include:
Poems in Unusual Forms Poems with Multiple Dictional Shifts Surrealistic Poems
For a complete Thematic Index identifying individual poems by Topic/Type
THE BODY (Benedikt's first book) and SKY (Benedikt's second book),
with brief commentary on thematic categories such as Surrealistic poems
& poems reflecting Benedikt's multi-media activities as Art, Film, and Theatre critic--
Click for Links to Other Sites re Benedikt
Brief Benedikt Biography
(Complete bio. appears in Who's Who in America; World, etc.)
Note: Many of Benedikt's books are now briefly represented on The Web
Michael Benedikt has published five collections
of poetry: The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler &
The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, l980), a book
about the joys & sorrows of love; and with Wesleyan University Press,
Night Cries (prose poems, l976); Mole Notes (prose poems, l971);
Sky (l970); and The Body (l968). Anthologies of poetry under
his editorship are The Prose Poem: An International Anthology
(Dell/Laurel, l976); and The Poetry of Surrealism (Little Brown, l974).
His anthologies of plays include three volumes of European drama co-edited
with theatre critic George E. Wellwarth: Modern French Theatre: The
Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (E.P. Dutton, l964); Post-War
German Theatre (Dutton, l967); & Modern Spanish Theatre (Dutton,
l969). He is also the editor of Theatre Experiment: American Plays
(Doubleday, l967). He is a former Associate Editor of Art News and
Art International. A former Poetry Editor of The Paris Review,
his editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology
(Norton, l990). His recent, l990's poetry has been published in such
literary magazines as Agni, Iowa Review, Jerusalem
Review, Lips, Michigan Quarterly Review, The
New Republic, New York Quarterly and Partisan Review; a
new poem appears in the current issue of Paris Review (#151). His
work appears in numerous anthologies of US poetry. His grants and awards
include an NEA Fellowship, a NY State Council On The Arts Grant, and a Guggenheim
Grant. He has given many readings from his poetry at colleges and bookstores
around the USA; and has taught Literature and Creative Writing
as Visiting Professor at Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Hampshire, and Vassar College/s, and at Boston University. He lives in New York City. E-mail at email@example.com.
For Info re Background of Benedikt Websites via article at About.com,
'The Compleat Michael Benedikt--Poet Laureate of The Net'
Click to Top
Click for Links to Other Sites re Benedikt
Click for Thematic Index & notes on THE BODY and SKY
LINKS TO OTHER SITES & MINI-SITES
by Michael Benedikt with a review of Benedikt's 4th poetry book, Night
from The London Times Literary Supplement. Review also discusses prose poetry generally,
by Michael Benedikt: Brief Prose Poems, with an interview with Benedikt
on prose poetry
from The Poetry Society of America Newsletter & an essay on 'The Future of The Prose Poem'
TV Poems by Michael Benedikt--& List of 20th Cent. Play Anthologies Edited
Includes poems on Entertainment-World & 'Showbiz.' With brief descriptions of Benedikt's collections of French, Spanish, German & US 'Poetic Theatre' (anthologies of Surrealistic plays, from 'The Theatre of The Absurd.') Also, info on obtaining performance rights for these off-beat plays
Poems from Boston & Cambridge, with recently-completed narrative poems, from a manuscript-in-progress entitled Transitions
The Thesaurus And Other New Verse by Michael Benedikt, a site with new poems, from a mss-in-progress entitled Of:.
Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga
Choo-Choo, a new site established
3/99 with selections from Benedikt's 5th & most recent poetry book--a
book of Love Poems,
some funny, some decidedly 'dark.'(Site Under Construction, but available for preview peeks)
with new poem from OF: on
Entertainment World, Sci-fi & Horror themes,
'Of Orson Welles Remarkable l938 Radio Broadcast, The War Of The Worlds'
with poem from OF: about growing up siblingless, 'Of An Only Child's
(Poem contains a personal variation on the 'Are We Alone' Sci-Fi Theme)
with poem from Transitions about the 'darker side' of 19th-century
USA Pioneer Life,
Click to Top
About.com Featured Site Award
[Counter for this page only]