31. Kenneth Patchen. "The murder of two men by a young kid wearing lemon-colored gloves," c. 1958.
Published here in: The collected poems of Kenneth Patchen. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp., 1968. First edition.
Rare Book Collection. (Physical exhibit displays facsimile.)

If "The murder of two men..." can essentially be described as a sick joke, then why is it so disturbing? The title of the poem gives the plot away at the very start, and the rest of the poem, consisting of only two words, could be skimmed in seconds. The staggered layout, however, prevents such an easy reading, and after the setup of the title, the reader is now implicated as the murderer, biding his time through the poem until its inevitable conclusion. Marvelous typographical touches speed and slow the pace. The words "Wait. Wait." close together on one line suggest an early excitement that must be tempered; "W a i t." stretches out in the middle as time drags on; and the final, italicized "Wait." immediately before the denouement is chilling. The deliberate typography also suggests the poem would be effective read aloud, and indeed Patchen did perform this and other poems with jazz musicians providing a backing.

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