NOTE: This poem was inspired by the horror and occasional paranoia that may arise from living in an apartment building where you have a lot of neighbours, but not much in common with them. I’d like to point out a few specific sources of inspiration. The “girl inside the water tank” bit that opens the poem was inspired by the real life death of Elisa Lam, which I read about on The four lines starting with “You’re no Greta Garbo” was inspired by a lyric in the song “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes – “She’s got Greta Garbo’s stand-off sighs”. Which is a brilliant lyric.  “Caligari nightmare” is quite obvious, but let me just say that you can watch the full version The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari on youtube


Once they found a girl inside a water tank.
They didn’t even suspect she was there
and drank of her for days.
The supervisor reigns over
a roomful of cigarette butts
and dead roaches,
You’re late with the bills again –
he says –
with a lipless mouth.
Ever since before I was born
he’s held this job.
Upstairs from me
a child is running
from the window to the door
and back again –
he has not yet learned
there is no place to hide.
Yet every night he hopes
for a safe place to appear,
before they seize him,
before he screams,
before they break his bones
and put them back together
with rancid glue
to form a twisted thing
that will grow up
to be just like them.
And I –
I keep pretending,
although they’re on to me.
You’re from a different movie, girl –
they say –
this isn’t your film noir
and you’re no Greta Garbo
You get the keep-off look right,
the upwards tilting
of your head when you sigh –
but you impress no one.
We see you, brittle thing,
and we don’t care
how long your coats are –
we’ll still dip your body
in the slime from our eyes.
This isn’t your Gothic romance,
your Caligari nightmare –
No prince and no lunatic
will ever set foot here.
Poor creature,
just a sprout –
all green and soft and wrong,
This is real life, girl –
Just watch as we edit you out.




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