I know this is old news, I believe first reported in December of 2008: A piano found by a woman strolling in a wooded conserve in Massachusetts near The Cape. Having been invited to potentially contribute to an upcoming issue of The Lineup, a chapbook of poetry about crime, I am revisiting this news story. This story that has been marinating in one way or another in my mind since I first came across it last year.
I am also revisiting The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death about the creations of Frances Glessner Lee. The notion of a small world in the literal sense has always and always enticed me. I am attempting visual art in this medium, but also in my poetry. Here, in particular, is an image, a crime that is inspiring me to write a poem. I desire to give a voice to this murdered woman, allegedly a prostitute, to give a voice to pain, to vice, to our human existence in the dark room.
Lee, a Chicago aristocrat who was also amazingly talented in sewing and miniature work with dreams of a career in law (a dream stumped by her social standing and her being a woman of course). So Lee created macabre nutshell studies of crime scenes to train detectives in finding clues. The original scenes are still, to my knowledge, in Maryland, and still, to my knowledge, are being used in training still today. Thanks, Mary Ruefle Love, for recommending Nutshell Studies … you are a dear heart.
I arrive at these news stories with imagery, with a poet’s eye in a sense. I needed something, a poetic goal, and thank the dear editor of The Lineup for sending me back into the caves of poetry, a room of clues to figure …
My first poem since living in Chicago, “The Crimes of Cat-Calling” is on its way to fruition … beginning with what all of this really means to me … does to me.
It’s a crime, men having the time of their lives,
cutting me down to the humidity of my panties.
How am I supposed to handle this disaster?
And it is a disaster to me to feel a crime wave coming on because of the pig-minds of strangers. They don’t want me here, that’s how it really feels.
But I am home now. Is it a crime to think that is now mine?