"Watching Dracula With My Daughter" by Joe Benevento–Guest Blogger

The Lugosi one, from the early ’30’s:
hardly any blood, Renfield’s eyes
crazier than the idea of a living dead,
Mina not any more grateful to be rescued
from the Count than she should be.

I send my younger two off to play,
mostly so my wife won’t blame me
for five year old Claire’s nightmares,
but Maria, twelve, stays with me to watch
the horror unfold.

All the darkness, the black and white
castles, crypts, bats we watch together,
laughing at what is supposed to be frightening,
since that is what we always do
best together.

I thought I wanted Maria to watch with me
because we love the classics I watched
with my sisters when I was her age,
but this is not the Marx Brothers
or some old, romantic comedy.

At its core, this version of the vampire
shows a father worried about his daughter’s
well-being but unaware until almost too late
of the imminence of her peril.  Not even
the bite marks on her neck are enough to alert him,

not even Mina’s best friend’s demise
with its post-mortem menacing of little children
in the park at dusk.  And about as late I recognize
how perverse it will seem to my spouse,
off to her women’s meeting

that Maria and I should be viewing
the work of Dracula together,
to observe how close he comes to stealing
the life of someone’s young daughter,
straight through to the end, when

the stake is being driven through
the Count’s cold heart,
even though the old films never keep
on screen those awful things we know
are necessary, finally, to a drama’s resolution.

–The following poem is from Joe’s chapbook, “Tough Guys Don’t Write,” with Finishing Line Press.  It can be ordered at www.finishinglinepress.com

Read more of Joe’s work when you get your copy of Kansas City Voices Volume 9.  To get your copy click here.

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