Wednesday, 19 March 2008

not sure if this counts but

A year or so back I became fascinated by Sharon Tate and the people who killed her - not so much Charlie Manson as the women from The Family. It all happened when I was young and I didn't really get it then - don't think I particularly get it now. Writing some poems about it helped. They are in Weeping for the Lovely Phantoms, my most recent book from Salt. I am working on some little poetry films about them, just i-movie style. The girls are all still in prison - that's nearly forty years. So I guess they are the dead that never lived.
Here are two poems from this section of the book:

Make it a real nice murder

Charlie checks them over
the girls and Tex, sends them
over the hill on their first mission
over the edge of the helter skelter
no going back.
They are his barefoot soldiers
his Vietcong spiked with methedrine
a distant twister coming up fast
through the peachy Californian dusk.

It’s a fine August night
ripe for pig killing.
The air is soft as velvet.
On Cielo Drive the fairy lights sparkle
around the homes of the rich
their unassailable lives.

“Leave a sign,” Charlie tells them
as the old yellow Ford
winds its way to the top of the hill.
“You know. Something witchy.”

Charlie’s Angel 1: Susan Atkins

She didn’t want to die, said Susan, laughing.
You should have heard her beg.
She thought because she was pregnant
she was safe.

No way. I told her straight.
Listen bitch, I said. You’re gonna die.
I don’t care about you.
I don’t feel anything at all.

After we killed her, I licked the blood from my hands.
I would have cut out the baby as a present for Charlie
but there wasn’t time.
He would have liked that.
What a trip that would have been.

Jo Colley


Eva Datta said...

Did you ever see Jim van Bebber's film about the Manson Family? It had a really limited release but it's well worth trying to find if you haven't. Part mockumentary, part lowgrade epic, it's more unnerving than any actual documentary I've seen about the Mansons. It's clever. The first hour is so peacefully philosophical, then all of a sudden, the screen takes you straight to hell. Anyhow, I found it really interesting. Well, until the ending, which was completely unnecessary and a bit of a lame attempt to outline Manson's cultural legacy.

Jojo said...

Thanks I'll try and track that down.

Ross Sutherland said...

Hi Jo - I really like these two poems. Is there any more to this series? can you post them? I'd really like to see the i-movies you've made as well.

would you be able to put the films up on youtube and direct me to them?

although its not technically 'the dead that never lived', it is an incredible portent death-fantasy, which think would work extremely well towards the end of the show.

plus, the whole Manson thing is all about secret messages transmitted by the media...and thats before we get into the whole media circus that the murders created. the whole thing has an unreality about it- more schlocky grindhouse than cold-blooded murder.

one of the most interesting things about these poems for me is that on one side you have susan atkins's remorseless, very real account, and on the other side you have a poetry-rich otherness

"a distant twister coming up fast
through the peachy Californian dusk."

that takes us back into a filmic fantasy-land. so i like the way the two sides rub up against each other.