365 days 365 poems, adolescence, art, aspirations, Courage, Creativity, daily poetry, depression, discipline, Family, insomnia, Jesus Quintero, lessons, Patty McCormack, perspective, poems, Teaching Adolescents, Teaching teens, Teaching Writing, The American Laboratory Theatre, The Bad Seed, Theater, Writing
Today was our first day of our spring break, and I had most of the day to do this, but I didn’t. I slept in, made breakfast burritos, took a walk with the girls, unzipped myself and HP from our workselves, and then went to dinner and a show in town with my bro and sis’-in-law. My dear friend Jesus Quintero, of The American Laboratory Theater, directed a community theater production of Maxwell Anderson’s The Bad Seed. That’s another reason that I saved the poeming for tonight. Jesus’ shows are always inspiring.
The show is creepy. It’s a dark psychological thriller about a child psychopath, and Rhoda Penmark is one of the scariest little girls ever written. Jesus did it well, to protect the innocence of his two child actresses, one of whom is his eldest daughter, he divided the part into two characters. The actors played as though there was only one little girl on stage, but we saw two, making different gestures and expressions, and fully representing the character’s interior and exterior. It was very brilliant directing. And the girls did a great, spooky job.
I’ve never seen the 1956 film, but I just spent ten minutes on youtube looking at clips, and man, they are scary. There’s nothing scarier than a scary kid. It’s something about their presumed innocence, and sweet faces, that makes their evil so much eviler. Check it out:
Patty McCormack earned an academy award nomination for that performance, and she was only eleven.
I’m not going to write a poem about psychopathic children, I don’t think. Even though I enjoyed the show, and love creepy stuff, I don’t feel like I have a lot to go on tonight. I have a few random phrases floating around, but nothing concrete to stick to em.
Did you know there are online Psychopathy and Sociopathy tests? I just did one, and I am not either. Actually, I didn’t finish the tests, but there isn’t any way that the answers required to fit those diagnoses were the ones I picked. I am far to emotional to be either. There was something called a Histrionic Personality test, but I avoided that one, because it might be far more likely. Actually, I just looked that up, and I am not that either. Whew.
There have been quite a few popular books on psychopathy and sociopathy written lately. Turns out, there are tons more of them than we previously thought. Like, we all probably know a few. I believe this to be true. I’ve worked at our school for five years now, and I can think of at least three probable psycopaths and two probable sociopaths. Granted, we have a rarified population, and part of the reason they end up with us is probably because other adults in their lives suspected, early on, that some kind of mental health intervention was necessary. It is hard to describe the uneasy feeling of interacting with them on a regular basis. It’s uncanny. There’s something cold in their eyes, even when they are pretending to be happy and carefree. The recognition that occurs is one of understanding that the person in front of you, despite all other external cues besides the way their eyes look, is somehow something other than human. Or maybe it is the lack of recognition that is uncanny. It’s like looking at a person and expecting to connect, but seeing only snake eyes instead. There’s something alien about it.
I don’t know what to write about. I’m going to try to hook up the phrases that have been passing through my brainspace, with these meditations on psychopathy.
The Bad Seed
Petting the arm of our mother, we said, “I have the prettiest mother, I have the goodest, best mother”. Please believe, we will make you believe, now you believe that we would never push him off the wharf. You will believe us because we’ve charmed you from the beginning, biting your nipples and then cooing, grinning, and nuzzling. We can make you feel needed the most. Plait my hair, mother. We need a new dress. One with red bows at the shoulders. Someday, maybe, it will hit you with the full boulder of the suspicion you’ve gestated all these years, that I slipped on purpose to make the old woman fall, and you will cry. We will be your good girl then, and we will chirp, “I have the prettiest mother”, and wipe at your tears with pigtails. In our dark room, the night answers us. We could think of nothing else. It’s secrecy bloomed in us like a bad seed, from an ancient plant.
So, again, the pre-poem outweighs the poem. At some point in this vacation, I’m going to write the longest poem yet. I swear. Happy Friday, poem friends.