Consider the Duckling (A Poem for Lucio Fulci)

Consider the Duckling...
Lucio instructs us not to torture,
on this point he is clear. In England they went so far as to call it
Don't Torture Donald Duck.

It's one of his first films to be splashed crimson
with significant gore. The sadistic streak follows
not far behind, and soon the blood is flowing
like water off a duck's back.

Maggots and zombies,
tarantulas and eye trauma,
are far more memorable. It's easy to forget
about the

Perhaps they are the idyll of provincial Italy,
feathered friends gliding on quiet waters
(the lake is crystal, not the plumage)
between pale slats of picket fence,
a picturesque mask to conceal
the lurking horror
of those repressed, out-of-the-way places.

After all, ducks, with their corkscrew genitalia
and proclivity for sexual violence
are unrepentantly
in ways Lucio can appreciate.

In Duckling, Donald himself cameos
in stuffed animal form. In one scene, he is fully intact.
In another, he has lost

Disney lawyers don't watch gialli, I suppose,
or read paperbacks with glossy covers,
colored chrome yellow like school buses, or
Donald's webbed

Ten years later, we meet the Ripper,
a killer determined to disembowel New York's finest

Where Dario's black-gloved murderers whisper
to disguise their voices,
Lucio's murderer

This back alley butcher taunts New York's finest
from a pay phone, quacking away
and dedicating his killings
(as if requesting tunes from a night-shift DJ)
most enthusiastically.

"You disappoint me, duck!"
chides the inspector.
"Quaaaaaack, quackquackquack!"
says the killer.

Was it a childhood trauma, Lucio,
ripped from the pages of a giallo?
Did a duck in a man's skin
kill your father?
Or was it that you were
sexually humiliated
while peeping on Donald and Daisy?

It's quite mystifying
but adheres to a dream-logic, something
like the plots of your early films
and your later films
and most of your films, really.

But if it looks like a duck
and walks like a duck
and talks like a duck,
(as your rival Dario might say)
it probably has
something to do with death.


(Inspired by Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, and The New York Ripper, and with reference to Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Tenebre and his screenplay Once Upon a Time in the West.)