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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, July 27, 2001

Poet writes of Fitzhugh case Poet writes of Fitzhugh case (July 27, 2001)

Rachel Loden was moved by imagery

by Don Kazak

Palo Alto poet Rachel Loden has written an illustrated poem inspired by the Kristine Fitzhugh murder.

Fitzhugh based her poem on the striking word-images contained in the original police affidavit of the case, then collaborated with a New York artist, Tad Richards, to produce a slim chapbook, entitled "Affidavit."

"I did it because I read the affidavit and I found it compelling," Loden said. "It just sparked my imagination."

It was also her way of dealing with the tragedy.

"The murder was horrifying and, as a woman, I took it to heart," she said.

The sometimes grisly drawings, akin to the artwork of Edward Gorey, are stark black-and-white images. But each has a touch of red, for blood.

While inspired by the Fitzhugh case, Loden also noted that it is "a work of the imagination." Hence Kristine Fitzhugh, the victim, becomes simply "Christine" in the chapbook.

The text of "Affadavit":

A luminous path of blood led from the kitchen

to the basement steps. The time of Ms. F's

death. The time the Fed Ex

driver knocked on the door. Her head

was on the landing next to a brass ship's bell.

He said he drove to a vacant lot on Sneath

Lane in San Bruno. It seemed the victim

had been sitting at the table when she died.

Her legs extended up the stairwell. Mr. F

could not explain the bloody shoes and towel

in his Suburban. He claimed the front door

was ajar. He called her name, "Christine."

Loden won the contemporary poetry series competition from the University of Georgia in 2000 for her book, "Hotel Imperium."

Some of the poems in that book show her sometimes edgy humor, with titles like "The Bride of Tricky D," about a plan to exhume Checkers, the Nixon family dog, plus "Reagan Ascending into Hollywood" and "The Gospel according to Clairol."

Loden is looking for a small press for wider distribution of the now self-published "Affidavit." But copies of it are available at Kepler's in Menlo Park. E-mail Don Kazak at [email protected]


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