Haunted Passages: Three Poems from Letitia Trent’s cinematic poetry collection Match Cut, now available to preorder

Haunted Passages: Letitia Trent

An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981)

At night, you become
your body, the skin pebbles,
hair thickens and stiffs,
nails curve and click
against the cold, sticky pavement.
Your body swells through your clothes
so you drop them, shredded, wherever
you are transformed. At night

You become your body
completely, whatever it wanted
is too subsumed for you
to remember in the morning, and when remembered,
too difficult to pronounce, your lips
still raw with pinpricks. You bite
your black nails, the metal taste
familiar—the memory of it fills
your mouth like syrup.

At night, you become your body
without apology, no language of sorry,
your teeth only instruments for finding
heat—the throat, the long white belly,
the vein-tracked skin inside the thigh.

At night, only your eyes
are familiar, and I go
where I believe
you will not be. The only silver
I own is the spill
of television fizz into the hallway.

I have nothing else to use
against you. I have nothing
covering my skin
to protect me.

The Howling (Joe Dante, 1981)

Men’s beards are terrible.
See how quickly
the hair crowds their pores,
how they must scrape
away the surfeit
each morning? Look
at the screen: The blonde
is in a private booth,
fifty-cents for a quarter-hour,
watching a blue film
within the film. See a woman’s
hands lashed and knotted
to a bed’s brass frame
as she squirms
and twists away
and the masked man, his face
a wrinkled blank, bends
over her belly
and slides his teeth
across her breasts. Below the mask:
a red of hasty razor rash. Sometimes,
Every man’s face blooms
new intention, they
are so easily furred
and shaded. Some
of us imagined, as children,
that we could lure
a creature—something forest-shy,
hiding behind a rock cropping,
hissing—back home
and housebreak it. We thought
we could make it love us
with the same force
as it curled its claw-palmed
paw around
the food dish. Maybe
it really happened, those stories
of the squirrel that ate
from the cat’s bowl, the raccoon
that washed the family’s apples
under the faucet. I wanted the animal
that might bite—the bobcat,
its ears pricked, the bear
in its big, fragrant body. I never could lead
a wild thing home. You
are the closest
I have come. I dreamed
you came across
my bridge with two dead rabbits
for me to gut
though I know nothing about viscera
except the name, and I hear
that skin will peel off easy
as orange if you hook
the right place
with a sharp knife, between skin
and muscle. But I was not ready
to tear the dermis, peel
the good meat away.
I watched your shoulders frame
your body
oh over and over,
and the rabbits death-heavy,
heads loose and bumping,
hind legs slim
as four girl’s wrists
held tight in your fist.

Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

I wanted to go to school
with only girls, girls
in white gauze and soft curls, girls

throwing their bodies
across a cold, wooden floor,
pirouetting in turns

in the light-filled room,
color bleeding like new,
cheap knits in the washer.

I dreamed I had been asked to arrive
in my smart wrap-dress,
carting my pink luggage, curls set in foam rollers.

I had been asked to turn
and spin steady as a drill bit, to leap
and commit to the height,
the fall, the slide

of my shadow across the wall, to drink
the nightly red wine, to learn
grace when pitching the body
across the high-shine floor.

One must tip the lamp into the dark and watch
what comes to meet
the face pressed against the glass,

let the body meet the hand extended
from nowhere, the knife sliding across
the throat. Even in death,
I’ll be graceful,

body a geometry problem
on the tiles, the arrow-shaped pane
a perfect sixty-degree angle in my breast,

the rope in a smiling loop
along my jaw. The colors will fall
from my mouth like spilled paint,
like polyester scarves in the wind, in the unseasonal gales

that arrive when I step outside the film
and into the weather. It whips
like a hug from behind, like a slap
from a sister, a stinging welcome.

They’ve been waiting for my arrival
for hours, for days now, my sheets
tucked tight in the mattress,

my name on my mailbox slot
for the letters I’ll get from mother.
I am assured by the girls, all beautiful, my sisters,
that I’ve always been expected.

Excerpt from Match Cut

Preorder from Sundress Publications

Letitia Trent grew up in Vermont and Oklahoma, and she received her MFA from Ohio State University. Her work includes the novels Echo Lake (Dark House Press, 2014) and Almost Dark (ChiZine, 2016), and the poetry collections One Perfect Bird (Sundress Publications, 2012), The Women in Charge, and You Aren’t in This Movie (both from dancing girl press). Her work has appeared in The Denver Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, 32 Poems, and Waxwing, among others. She won the Alumni Flash Writing Award from Ohio State University’s The Journal in 2010 and has been awarded fellowships from The Vermont Studio Center and the MacDowell Colony. Letitia works in the mental health field in a small town in the Ozarks with her husband, son, and three black cats.

Excerpt provided by author.

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