Three Dark Poems by Fabrice Poussin

In the House of Gray Matter

Inside the termite feast
wooden slats agonize in 
the pedestal of the former fortress.

A shell of clapper boards still attempts
to shield the gooey mass
from infernal storms.

Only one room for the great reception
candle lights and evening gown
and there remains only the gray matter.

It pulsates at an unforgiving beat 
oozing with the last glows of a dream
blind through the cracks of faked windows.

Few thoughts emanate from the dull fire
a spark here pretends to still care
yet it is alien to an existence it once knew.

The walls ache with a constant throb
while the ruby fluid quickly pales
soon it will be darkness in this old head.

Let Her Cry Once More

Staring at a faraway line beyond the surf
having braved the early hour in a light satin
she has walked perhaps a final stroll upon a beloved shore.

Like so many covers of fancy periodicals
she still graces the pages of her wondrous tale
stained by the repeated wounds of her teen days

Broken in bones as she is in soul
the ocean is the receptacle of grand desires
filled with endless torrents of her tears.

Beneath her breast a fire attempts to burst
into an eternal scream through the air
yet she remains silent as her gaze darkens.

Once she only had her chagrin for companion
now she recalls the long hours before dawn
when she could sound a voluptuous cry.

It has been centuries she feels
since she was last able to make a whisper 
but now it is time to accept the embrace of the wave.

Wrapped in the immense shroud of days without sense
she lets herself carried away to the depths
where at least she will repose in safety.

Writing Her In

The pen softly moves across the white
page of unfulfilled dreams
an unfinished tale whispers to the cosmos.

Drawing upon memories others hold
deep within the aching flesh he searches
the ideal perhaps none can fathom. 

A word is born into the velum
a letter of endless curves and thick
edges to the side of the eternal page.

He might be blind to the unruly crowds
as he contemplates a vision carved
on the secret walls of his crumbling days. 

The story at last comes to life
phrases take form above the sterile land
and dance a waltz into tight embrace. 

Revealed in its most simple attire
even if but for a mere instant
he has found the refuge within the creation. 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.  

Special Feature: “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

On Sunday, March 7, a friend of mine, Tim Stamps, whom I have known since college way back in the dark ages of the 70’s, sent me this link to a truly dark video. I thought it would make an excellent special feature for The Chamber. Here’s what he says about it:

“Hey Phil, check this out —A friend [Samuel Hanon is the name on the video] put this together. Playing the Twilight Zone version of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” with a Pink Floyd concert CD “Live at the Empire Pool, Wembley Park, London” recorded in November, 1974. Nothing is edited out or changed, except color effects added. All the lyrics and everything synchronistically match on queue. Play here:

As you will learn with Rod Serling’s narration during the intro, this is not a Twilight Zone production per se. This is a French telling of the classic tale “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. It was the winner of the 1962 Cannes Film Festival and of several other international prizes as well. The original version is truly haunting, but the additional soundtrack and colorization take it to a whole new, nightmarishly surreal level.

What I find interesting about the story is that, when it was written in 1890, feelings about the Civil War were still very intense. After all, the Civil War had erupted only thirty years earlier in 1860. Many soldiers on both sides were still alive. Many African-Americans were still alive who had been slaves. Bierce had served with the Union Army and had seen combat several times including at Shiloh. He sustained a traumatic brain injury at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, whose effects he felt for the rest of his life. Nonetheless, Bierce penned this story about the hanging of a Confederate soldier told from the rebel’s perspective. Bierce did not see his former enemies as inhuman monsters, which I am sure many former Union soldiers did. He recognized the humanity in them and he brings this out in this story, making his readers, many of whom doubtlessly still had strong feelings about the war, feel sympathy for their suffering as well and made them see the former rebels as human.

In our current atmosphere of political turmoil (which cannot hold a candle to the turmoil before, during, and after the Civil War), there is a lesson for us in this classic work of American literature. It shows us that in spite of our feelings about current political and national issues, no matter how intense they are, we must not lose sight of the fact that our political opponents are as human as we are and feel as deeply and as intensely as we all do. We are people with differing opinions, but we are all still people. We must not lose sight of that fact.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

By the way, I will take submissions of links to dark videos or films so long as they meet the stipulations in The Chamber’s submission guidelines and so long as the person submitting owns the copyright. There are a wide range of formats to which I can link, so please query first and I will let you know if I can link to it.