top of page

3 poems by SJ Fowler

The Baby of Mâcon

A town cursed with barren women and famine is saved by a miracle birth to an old,

ugly woman: The Mother. Immediately afterwards, the old woman's Daughter claims

to have delivered the baby herself in a virgin birth. She imprisons the Mother and

begins to exploit the Baby by selling blessings to the desperate townspeople of

Mâcon. The Church is both suspicious and jealous. The Bishop's Son, a believer in

science and a skeptic, doubts the Daughter. She attempts to convince him that she

is indeed a virgin by offering her virginity to him. Before the Bishop's Son is able to

consummate with the Daughter, the Baby commands a bull to kill him. The Bishop

arrives as his son has been gored, and blame for his son's death falls onto the

Daughter. The Bishop takes custody of the Baby and the Church begins exploiting

him, and the town's faith, far more than the Daughter. In response, the Daughter

quietly suffocates the Baby. The Bishop sentences her to death, but because she is

still a virgin, she cannot be killed outright. The Daughter is instead sentenced to be

violated, assaulted, outraged, molested, ravished, defiled, deflowered (applies in this

specific case), despoiled, devirginated, debauched, abused 208 times (some

sources say 217 times), after which she is to be executed. But after this she is found

to be dead. The Church then dismembers the Baby's body and sells his remains as

religious relics to the townspeople. Famine falls once again onto the city of Mâcon.

Release: September 17, 1993

Director: Peter Greenaway

Nightwatch (Nattevagten)

The dead get blamed for everything. For example:

  •  Why were you not watching?

  •  Why do you work at night?

  •  The treatment of those with a syndrome

  •  We two parted in noise and hate.

  •  An early sighting of Nikolaj Coster Waldau. I knew him before you.

  •  Why is it not all balanced for ever? Then everything will be fine.

  •  No One Will Die.

  •  The release of a remake that went (not) well for the money people.

  •  The release of vampires from prisons, the dead into the dying.

  •  The police catching up with you, for what you did.

  •  An early sighting of Kim Bodnia. I knew him before you.

  •  The dew of thy mourning sunk like a drink on a corpse’s brow.

  •  The feeling of a warning to what we feel.

  •  You’ll be a grandmother if you shut up and just watch the film.

  •  Nightshifts are bad for the body.

  •  There is no shame if you don’t want to be awake nights.

  •  An early sighting of (a photo of) Ludwig Wittgenstein.

  •  The shuddering one is out in the morgue’s bathroom, asking to one’s own parts, why were you so nice to me?

  •  The dead knowing who I am and how well I know you too, in private.

  •  The long regret that bothered with eternity.

  •  Not for you to rest while there’s bodies to guide, handsome Charon.

Release: February 25, 1994

Director: Ole Bornedal

Satan’s Brew

For the first time I really came to understand the eternal character of the professional

revolutionary who feels that he is raised from his personal insignificance merely by

adapting a stance of opposition, and clings to dogmatism because he has no

resources of his own to support him.

Stefan Zweig

A poetry that needs the right setting,

that can’t be in the toilet, or the tram.

That requires an inner receptiveness in people.

A writing written on the wall, permanently fussed,

like a memory of an overrated poet (Stefan George)

called a film following anthropoesis

thinking, a group of anaemic poets nodding.

anger here does not indicate fatigue but

boredom at three mistresses and a wife,

all gentle to a fault, wandering

with no searches for “sick” memories

with no pleasure at being pleasured


{I reserve judgement until I have become him}

poorly planned like shopping money

and what differentiates the heathens from us

is their resolve to not film in human terms.

90% of poetry is the manifestation of physical ailments.

Release: October 7, 1976

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder


SJ Fowler is a writer and artist who works in poetry, fiction, theatre, film, photography, visual art, sound art and performance. He has published seven collections of poetry, three of artworks, four of collaborative poetry plus volumes of selected essays and selected collaborations. He is the director of Writers' Centre Kingston and European Poetry Festival.

I Stand Alone by The Devils and other poems on films is out now from Broken Sleep Books.


bottom of page