Daniel Gutstein


Grey windows on the wet street—
the killer is a thimble, a teaspoon,
a brooch—the killer's wake
where the train tugs an upgrade—
where the sun embroiders a lattice
of shade—matchscrape the sound
of the killer's cough—ear like
a stethoscope pressed to the killer's
deep draw—pressed to the killer's
deep draw, a spike of static—
the radio in between stations,
in between the killer is—a tissue,
a keychain, a pocketwatch—
frown of brow, the cleft smirk is
the killer in composite—"killer
coulda been darker-skinned, I was
at a remove"—"killer coulda been
at a remove"—grey windows
on the wet street—everywhere and
nowhere the chime of vanishment—


"The Killer in Composite" comes from an informal series of "killer" poems that I've written in the past year or two. About fifteen years ago, my best friend and his girlfriend were killed in what is still an unsolved (and actively investigated) murder case in the Washington, D.C. area. I was with my friend and his girlfriend on the night they were killed, but I never saw the killer. I think I try to express, then, the "mysteriousness" and "elusiveness" of the killer; I think I also try to express the relationship between the absence (the death) of the victim(s), and the absence (the flight) of the killer.