Craigslist Killer Noir

Stephen Gibson Click to read more...

sgibsonStephen Gibson is the author of five poetry collections: Rorschach Art Too (2014 Donald Justice Prize, West Chester University),  Paradise (Miller Williams Prize finalist, University of Arkansas Press, 2011), Frescoes (Lost Horse Press book prize, 2009), Masaccio’s Expulsion (MARGIE/Intuit House book prize, 2006), and Rorschach Art (Red Hen, 2001).   His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry.  His collection in progress is “The Garden of Earthly Delights, A Scrambled Abecedarian.”

He hid their panties in the back of his closet, trophies
of his attacks (which he didn’t think of as attacks),
replayed in his head how everything went down,
not as he planned (nothing ever went as planned),
but had gone well enough, so that on the hospital
ward, making rounds, he could enjoy the moment

though he could never speak about the moment.
At least, out loud. And never about his trophies.
Med students didn’t keep trophies. At the hospital
he was one person. EMTs brought in heart attacks,
drug ODs, botched suicides that didn’t go as planned
(one jumper caught a hotel canopy on the way down,

enough to slow his speed, though not a tube down
his throat after what should have been a moment
of impact, and then nothing). His fiancée planned
their future for her doctor-squeeze—he was a trophy
for her and knew it and liked it. That man attacks
sex escorts at night after his shifts at the hospital?

You’ve got to be kidding—he worked at a hospital.
But he knew of a surgeon who was on the down-
low in men’s bathrooms—and was once attacked
when he approached the wrong dude, a moment
the surgeon tried to blow off to police. (His trophies
were a wife of thirty years and three kids—that plan

didn’t exactly go as Mr. Down-Low had planned,
now did it?) When he wasn’t the face at the hospital,
he was someone else, someone who kept trophies
from rooms where he watched them pull them down—
they still smelled of that particular, delicious moment.
Money wasn’t the issue (newspapers said the attacks

were escort robberies gone bad). No person attacks
a human being solely for money—and no one plans
what’s really going on inside their head at that moment.
But it’s going on inside. You see that in the hospital,
the raw essentialness of it—that something deep down
in the other person rising to the surface. That trophy.
The pupils of the heart attack looking back in the hospital.
The surgery not going as planned, the widow sitting down.
The moment everyone will one day come to. That trophy.

 

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Discussion

One Response to Craigslist Killer Noir

  1. Kiki Martire says:

    Gibson draws a compelling parallel between death and accomplishment. Similarly, a dark comparison emerges in the poem between the trophies we accumulate throughout life (a career, family, spouse, children) and macabre exploits of individuals in private. The omniscient narrator draws is a fine line between life and death, the misfortune in a hospital bed versus the gore of a crime scene.

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