Terry Wright

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Welcome to a formal
synthetic heaven where
a starlet loafs on clouds
as silent death ascends

before the dingy scrim.
Around art noveau graffiti,
props, Edwardian chairs,
out of kilter windows

and walls the sleepwalker
steps from his phony lair
with panther precision. Dark
Hamlet shirt and tights

heighten tension but heís
his fatherís ghost also
with mime white face
and hands which hold

no skull. A black
blob shifts about in space
before the photo over-
exposes. Up goes his

arm offensively, jump
cut to the knife, tallow
like the stalkerís skin, hard
as a hockey mask mold

but behind raccoon eyes
a better thought takes hold.
He groans a grin. He needs
substance beyond the surreal

terra incognito. The touch
incinerates both scene
and screen and paradise
is all frantic futile

struggle. That harp
wasnít helping. That bliss
takes you out from behind.
Wake up. Youíre dead.



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*Based on a scene from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). Director: Robert Wiene. Starring : Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt.