“The Survivor of a Slasher Flick in Middle Age” by Peter Swanson

I hope you saw Kathleen Ryan’s poetry post last week, and I’m offering another stop on the crime poetry blog tour: 30 Days of the 5-2.

Please follow the linked title below to listen to the author read his work. I was drawn to this one, because it’s quite nicely done, of course. But also because I’ve seen a bunch of those horror movies, and what happens long afterward is something rarely examined. We never see survivor characters later, unless they’re backstory devices, playing the wizened mentor to the real lead, the new young hero or heroine. But just imagine if Buffy the Vampire Slayer were getting her AARP card–what would she have to say about everything she’d seen and been?


The dusk of ponds, the flesh of summer camps:
Colors from bad dreams. Her friends from then
Are ageless now, forever in their teens.
The killer disappeared with their limp lives:

A poacher with a bag of fallen birds.
She still can feel the whistle of his breath,
The swish of boning knife through gummy air.

But now, grown old and heavy-hipped and gray,
Death comes slower-paced, a tourist bus
That hisses to a halt where vistas are,
And cannot raise the wingbeat of her heart.

Occasionally, the black of dream-plagued nights
Will snag her skin. She’s young again,
And radiant, one step ahead of everyone.

The definition of a spunky survivor, Jamie Lee Curtis, the star of 5 Halloween horror movies, as well as The Fog, Prom Night, and Terror Train

This one survived 8 horror movies.

This entry was posted in *Clare, On Movies, On Poetry by Clare2e. Bookmark the permalink.

About Clare2e

Clare Toohey is a genre hack and friendly contrarian who wrangles CriminalElement.com and also blogs for WomenofMystery.net. A literary omnivore who wants a taste off your plate, she adores the uncanny and New England sports. Tweet her @clare2e

11 thoughts on ““The Survivor of a Slasher Flick in Middle Age” by Peter Swanson

  1. Fabulos poem, thank you so much for sharing it. Poetry often deals with death, but this kind of twist, the survivor, is fascinating. I think you’ve just granted a lot of mystery writers a great idea for a character.

    • The poem actually reminded me of an interesting suspense novel I’d read with a character like this. It fell apart rather predictably at the end, which is why I won’t mention it, but meeting this person years later is a set-up that really grabbed me.

  2. I have always loved reading poetry, especially poems that tell a story. Nice one!

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