"The 5-2 : Crime Poetry Weekly": Charles Rammelkamp
Here's the blog tour's complete schedule. But first, the poem:
Notice the shocking first line. I'm an impatient reader, often putting a book down if the first line does not grab me. Rammelkamp's makes me want to keep reading.HOME AGAINWe didn't exactly rape her,
but Harlow did bring Susie to the New Year's Eve party
with the idea that we'd all fuck her,
Susie one of those girls who "pulled trains."
Why not? I was a college freshman
home like a returning warrior
from my first year on my own
at the state university a hundred miles away,
reuniting with the locals who'd stayed behind.
"Why do I always end up in the bedroom?"
Susie asked plaintively as I pulled on my pants
and Danny entered the bedroom.
I felt like a sneak thief zipping my jeans,
grabbing my boots and easing out the door.
I never saw her again.
Now, forty years later,
I come home for Christmas
from across the country
to find Susie pushing my mother
in a wheelchair,
helping her bathe and dress,
cooing soothing words to the frail old lady,
a day care provider for the elderly.
We do not acknowledge our acquaintance —
does she even recognize me? —
but my self-consciousness hangs
between us like a curtain,
suffocating as cotton.
Next, the opening lines of the second stanza. How would many crime writers portray such a victim? Beaten, perhaps; bloody and dazed into pain, helplessness, or self-reproach, possibly; shocked into muteness, maybe. But Rammelkamp loosens her tongue instead of tying it, and her introspection is touching.
Finally, the third stanza. I don't much like self-consciousness; it's too self-conscious. But that unsettling, anti-climactic ending, the sort of thing that lingers in my mind after I close a David Goodis novel, makes this noir, because no one gets the easy out of dying.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013