blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1




Some night ask him the story
how he escaped Hungary in a womb of straw,
became a sailor and quit sailing forever
in New Orleans, where he declared himself
to the bored authorities Bela Blasko,
thirty-nine, five-ten, hair and eyes black.

Several years later, to the publicity dept.
at Imperial Studio, in answer to a questionnaire,
he became Bela Lugosi, twenty-eight,
six-one and blue eyed as a Wichita quarterback.
High spots of life? “It is no one’s business.”
He was unwilling to share his beauty secrets.

Stagehands were his closest friends, he said,
and his favorite dish was “Cabbage, stuffed.”
What sort of thing makes you angry? “Talk.”
When I need to retreat from myself he appears,
figure from the moon’s side of the mind.
The overturned tarantula of his hands.
Bat-eyebrow. The open casket effect.

“It is the women who love horror,” he said.
“They write me letters of a horrible type.
Was I into that sort of thing.” In 1955
he sold his stamp collection for morphine.
Only Ed Wood in angora would hire him
for free. “Horror,” he told a reporter,

“Is not what it used to be.” But that Easter
in 1916 he played Jesus in Bucharest.
He kept the passion-play still on his mantle,
diffused light, cheeks sucked in and hollow,
staring uncertainly up at his crown. 

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