Friday, October 12, 2012

Job Description: A Poem About Director Denial ('Haunted' by Chuck Palahniuk)

Haunted, published in 2005, is probably Chuck Palahniuk's most ambitious project to date. The novel is a mix of short story anthology and fictional narrative, with 19 narrators/characters and 23 stories, which are all prefaced with a poem. Basically, you have 17 writers locked away for what they thought was a simple writer's retreat. Then, in order to have the best survival story, they all begin to sabotage eachother and themselves to the point of starvation and suffering, all with the goal of being famous afterwards. In the midst of all this craziness, each character is narrates their own story, which range from brutal body horror to psychological trauma to science fiction and monster tales. Today, I'd like to share a poem that introduces one of my favourite stories in the book. I highly recommend reading Haunted in its entirety, but only if you have a really strong stomach and a wicked sense of humour.

Job Description A Poem About Director Denial

'A police officer,' says Director Denial, 'has to protect a
      Satan worshiper.'
      You don't get to pick and choose.

Director Denial onstage, the tweed sleeves of her blazer
      disappear around her back,
      where her hands are holding each other
      hidden, the way you'd stand for a firing squad.
Her hair, salted with gray and cut short to look bristling
      on purpose.

Onstage, instead of a spotlight, a movie fragment:
      A security video, grainy black and white,
      of suspects under arrest, standing in lineups for
           identification by a witness.
      Suspects wrestling with handcuffs, or their coats pulled
          up in back
      to hood their faces as they go to court.

Onstage stands Director Denial, with the bulge of her
     shoulder holster
     swelling one lapel of her blazer.
Her tweed skirt hemmed above the cuffed white running shoes,
     the shoelaces double knotted.

She says 'An officer of the law has to die for pretty much
     You die for people who kick dogs.
     Drug addicts. Communists. Lutherans.
     You die to protect and serve rich kids with trust funds.
     Child molesters. Pornographers. Prostitutes.
     If that next bullet has your name on it.

Her face crowded with victims and criminals, black and
     Director Denial says, 'You might die for welfare
     Or drag queens.
     For folks who hate you, or folks who'd call you a hero.
You don't get to discriminate when your number comes up.

'And if you're really stupid,' Director Denial says, 'you die
     still hoping.'
     You made the world just a little bit better place.
     And maybe, just maybe, your death
     will be the last.

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