Constructing a Tableau Vivant for Kitty Genovese

Light thirty-eight windows
with strangers’ faces. Suspend
breath. One’s eyes should have a feather
gaze: hovering over, not hitting,
concrete. There should be three children’s
hands splayed to panes: attempts to grab
a snow that hasn’t yet caught. One set
of fingernails mid-click on receiver, wrist
the toppled neck of a strangled swan.
Attempt to raise, half-mast, a paper to cover
one’s chin, but linger. Stifle a cough
in seven old Adam’s apples. While the red
face that blooms into weep should not
look, the back of the shoulders should be tight.
The man that loves to watch should be shot
in the dark while his fingers Jacob’s ladder
over and over in excited tangle. Add
a masturbator with an audible smile,
a grandmother slipping into cardiac
arrest under her cardigan. One just plays
a prayer on repeat I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m
sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m skipping
tracks across the rosary. Almost beaded
together, two lovers should tango, rose
bit between molars. Two should be Siamese,
twisting against the other’s skin knots. Four
are already on fire, match touched
to the moth. Six truckers have seen so many
accidents, they no longer remember how
to pull over. A newborn stirs, a pink spoon
in its sleep. Two lock in lover’s quarrel, flinging
accusations no one can hear anything over.
IS SCREAMING! a face under pig-tails
tattles. Her mother arthritically kneads
and seethes. Her father checks his watch.


M. Ann Hull has published work in 32 Poems, Barrow Street, BOXCAR Poetry Review, Fugue, Mid-American Review, Passages North, and Quarterly West, among others, and has been awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. A former poetry editor of Black Warrior Review, she holds an MFA from the University of Alabama.