Zombies. These creatures constantly reappear in our culture. Why? Do they represent our deepest fears and failures? They’re dead, but they just don’t die! The subversive metaphor of the zombie can hide a truckload of meaning and cultural analysis. Why is the need to embody death as a zombie both cathartic and appealing? Are zombies simply an exploration of our fear of death? Or, do they represent a rejection of the culture of death that pervades the Western world? Or, maybe they decry the loss of personal identity that is a result of fragmented culture and the ravaging of humans through disease? Maybe the overwhelming nature of the problems we face in the world, and our constant exposure to them, makes zombies out of us all? So many questions!
Max Brooks, author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks has said that, “Zombies are the perfect tool for exploring apocalyptic fears. There are things that are really scary out there in this world that are lot scarier than zombies, but we don’t talk about them. A discussion about the AIDS pandemic could clear a P. Diddy party, but if you talk about zombies, you’ve got the room.” So maybe the discussion you had with your friend about the AMC series The Walking Dead was a safe way to talk about your fears with others? Well, in that case, hurray for the artists who create ways for us to confront our fears! Author and zombie expert Johathan Maberry has said that, “Zombie fiction and movies, when they’re good, aren’t about zombies. They are stories about people and how they respond.” That makes the zombie genre the perfect form for writers and poets who would prefer to talk to us gently about the things we fear and wish to avoid the most. Maberry goes on to say that, “A zombie is a stand-in for anything we fear: pandemic, racism, societal change, de-personalization of humanity, pervasive threat and how this threat affects people. It’s the core of drama and a never-ending blank canvas.”
Are you intrigued? Well, I have just the place to start your zombie adventures. Barbara Lyon is a friend who just released a collection of poems dedicated to these dumb and frightful creatures. She is a local Sacramento artist who continually inspires my family with her delightful illustrations, plays, and poems. Her new collection of poems about zombies is now available through Amazon as a Kindle e-book or traditional paperback. Both of these formats can be found here. The Kindle version is being sold for under one dollar! You have no excuse not to buy this delightful collection. She is also the illustrator and was gracious enough to allow me to post a few samples. Enjoy, then support the artist.
I play it off as if
I had intended all along
The segregation of sauce and noodles.
But the truth will come out
During zombie apocalypse that
Spatial reasoning is not my gift.
It will be exposed as I
Evaluate the expanse
Between me and the zombie
And me and the bunker door
And think to myself
“Oh, yeah, I can totally make that.”
THE ZOMBIE DIET
If it were a thing that I could
Bottle it and
Sell it on the shelves in south beach.
And the imperfectly weighted
Would buy astonishing amounts
And laud the attributes of this
The perfect pill.
And they would extol their thinning limbs
And admire the caverns beneath their cheekbones
Never bothering to read the warning label that
“Side effects may include
Managing to keep alive
Skilled at skinning life
And this is me
Behind them in the corner
Preserved for posterity
Philosophizing our preservation’s toll.
The artist me
Who rebels against closed windows
Who takes a walk to watch the moonrise
And noticing the pretty play of shadow on the path
Doesn’t bother searching for its source.
And as then I
Surprised by monster teeth
I will even then
The hue and pallor of the skin
The faintest mix of
Titanium white and viridian green