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Featured Poem II • August 2014

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It’s a Universal Picture

 

Gwynne Garfinkle

 
 

1 I grew up loving witches: peaked black hats and broomsticks for flight, Bewitched and books about the Salem witch trials. One Halloween I asked my dad to make me up. He worked on me with pencil and putty, then I looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I’d wanted to be Elizabeth Montgomery. He’d made me a warty hag. 2 Somehow my dad knew I would love those black-and-white monster movies. They didn’t scare me: Karloff and Lugosi, Colin Clive and Dwight Frye (Clive died young of TB, Frye of a heart attack, riding a bus), Lon Chaney Jr. sorrowfully turning werewolf, Gloria Holden as Dracula’s Daughter trying to fight her nature. I watched them on TV Saturdays before sessions in the dentist’s chair, my teeth pulled from overcrowded, crooked rows, the taste of blood in my mouth. 3 When I was grown, my bedridden dad, ravaged and rewritten, transformed by Parkinson's, would snarl like Karloff's monster, and I, in horror, turn away.

 

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gwynnegarfinkleGwynne Garfinkle lives in Los Angeles. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Strange Horizons, Interfictions, Apex Magazine, The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Goblin Fruit, and Shimmer. For more about her work, visit her website, gwynnegarfinkle.com.

About her poem in this issue, she writes, “When I began writing the piece that would eventually become ‘It’s a Universal Picture,’ I thought it would be a cheerful essay about how my father, a screenwriter, introduced me to the 1930s horror films that I’ve loved most of my life. Somewhere along the way, the essay morphed into a poem, and then it took a darker turn.”

 

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