In 1967, Jayne Mansfield was nearly decapitated by a truck spraying mosquito fogger. On November 20th 1981, Natalie Wood's partially naked body was found near Catalina Island. In 1968, Roman Navorro was brutally beaten by two teenage brothers, finally choking on his own blood. Based on suicide and murder, Mel Michaels has written a book of poems, Fatal Adjective, based on the points of view of many notorious personalities. He has a Master's in Creative Writing from Goddard College.
EXCERPTS (from FATAL ADJECTIVE)
We were both smitten. I was make’n hot
chocolate in the kitchen and there he come
gliding in from the doorway, like a cloud of smoke.
His body clean ‘cept for our mouths. I was afraid
to stop staring. Afraid his face might disappear.
So I had to follow him. Perhaps he should’a stuck
to theiv’n turkeys. But Clyde would have just said,
“Rob’n banks or bootleg’n liquor, you can’t stop
the inevitable Bonnie.” Ain’t that lighting!
His lips collect consonants like a hustle’n babe.
Clyde is a social dog. Arms and legs outstretched.
His limbs always a loyal companion. We was
making no mistakes, ‘cept for kill’n them boils with badges.
Clyde was never eager for fame. Let me get that out.
We imagined revenge as tender madness. Like an echo
slip’n out from underneath a robin’s hood. But they
came with carnival eyes bulging. And there I was
walk’n into the white hard shaking. A long wail come’n
out from bushes, like a volcanic shrug.
Let me tell you sump’n bout Bonnie. I love the animal moments
swinging freely from her body. The red canaries pouring out
from her breasts. The pubic angles in her walk. Stock’ng legs
swollen with words. And how can I forget about her poetry,
dissolv’n on my tongue like cool spit. And then I look at these
shattered windows and a blue terror jerks the still hell out from
underneath muscle cries. I mean, I suppose even the golden
waterthrush walks into the sewage. But it was never ‘spose to
end like this. Pictures now are waterlogged. And our story is
nearly dragged out, as if everything, including my birth was
shaped for dreams. A kind of horrible beauty with wax wings.
Shifting up and sideways from slugs and cracks and ravines.
Trapped beneath the burning. Split. Like orange peels.
Pieces of Bonnie’s skirt, my bloodied comb, nimbus ears
and the riddles only this car carries on.