Archive for October 2012 | Monthly archive page

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On the page this week is The Hitchhiker by Ai. I’m afraid it’s probably cliche to say that this poem is chilling in tone and gets under my skin in that oozing type of way. I would not call this subject matter original, but the voice it’s written in is amazing because it seems so authentic, even to one unfamiliar (as I hope we all are) with committing murder. The narrator in this poem has a methodology that places himself in the vulnerable position as a way to lure his victim(s). In this case, the narrator’s on the sidewalk pretending to need help (or a ride), but it’s really a device to satiate his own deviant and criminal desires. This character reminds me of murderers I’ve read about  who wore masks of charm and used ploys of helplessness to give their victims a false sense of security.

“As a woman drives up slowly,
I get in, grinning at a face I do not like,
but I slide my arm across the top of the seat
and rest it lightly against her shoulder.

In this poem, Ai, known for her first person narrations, speaks through the voice of a murderer. My interpretation is that, this snapshot in time reveals a scenario that the narrator has experienced before. His thoughts are organized, his actions methodical and by the end, he sadistically relishes in the harm he inflicts upon another. When reading the poem again and letting the imagery and rhythm sink in, the picture that emerges is that of a serial killer.

“We stop, and she moves closer to me, my hands ache,
but somehow, I get the blade into her chest.

But this poem provides more than forbidden and depraved voyeurism for a reader, it draws us into the hunger and compulsion of someone that “needs” or “wants” to kill (see passage above). It’s also abrupt in that it seems like a movie reel missing scenes. It jumps from the encounter, to the act of murder, to the departure.  Although the poem hits the points of beginning, middle and end (like a chronological story), We are left to fill in many blanks.

“I move off toward the street.
My feet press down in it
familiar with the hot, soft asphalt
that caresses them.

But the most unsettling line comes at the end of the poem:

“The sun slips down into the cradle behind the mountains
and it is hot, hotter than ever
and I like it.”

Ai is spot on in the aftermath of a scenario such as this. I cannot  say I know what goes on in a killer’s mind, no one can with exact certainty (unless they’re a killer). But from what I’ve read about crimes like what is described in this piece, there seems to be a calmness after a perpetrator commits such an act, one that could almost be described as matter-of-fact. In The Hitchhiker, the narrator happily goes about his way as though nothing has happened, concentrated on the heat of the late afternoon…satisfied with his day.