Man Bites Dog



Man Bites Dog


Come with me and I'll show you what you've done.


I wander off from the cameras and imagine yourself in a field I can see in the distance.

The details don’t matter too much.

You’re walking. You come across a body.

You were talking, I interrupted. You were speaking of the craft of murder, the failings of architecture, your own poetry and your classical music, which you play with your girlfriend.


‘Oh no,’ you think, suddenly, ‘what if they think I killed them?’


This would be a reasonable thought to have, sooner or later, after discovery.

But better not said, out loud. So many questions would follow.


The investigation would necessarily seek out information not only about the body you’ve discovered, but all the information that surrounds it.

Like zooming out of google maps.

You'd soon be inculcated. That is, informed.


We begin with the details of the corpse.

It’s eyes, eyelashes, hairline.

Then indents around the eyes, from glasses?

The clothes.

What is under its fingernails? What is that earthy smell?
A first time for everything.


The field.

The surroundings.

The nearby road, town, city, county, region, country, continent.

Can you navigate without a map?

What if you lose your way?

What if you need to return to this field, to the place of burial.

What were you doing in that field?


The body would not be useful alone.

It is true, the body begins

but without the body there is nothing to worry about, absolutely.


You wonder why you just left it out.


Without other people worrying about everything that surrounds the body, in tandem, in a matrix, in a constellation, then they’ll never be able to prove your innocence.

You realise, there is no single body in the field.


The field is full of bodies.

Of all different hues.

All at different depths. All kinds of time. Degradation in stages.

Is hue the problem?

A lack of it.


Or something deeper, more ambiguous, more threatening, than shade?

Than decomposition.

Something more important, but harder to understand, and so easier to ignore, in favour of just look.


The field must be cultivated with the utmost of care,

if we are to find the killer,

for its agency is disappeared by the generosity of knowledge.


Someone has told you the conditions.

Don't kill. Definitely don't kill for fun.

That is purposeless and murder.


What is given and accepted will rapidly become

the appearance of being found,

with all the pretence of being essential,

though it is simply that which has been discovered by someone else.

It plasters over that knowledge which you make for yourself

that what might have a stronger claim on an inner truth.

You are alive, and they are not.

The very act of discovery itself.


The more time you spend in the field, the more you are inherited, fed and interjected, the more proselytising your feeling about it is.

There’s an irony here, though.

For you did kill the corpse, It Happened Near Your Home.


You were reacting, self-defence or not, you were trying to impress,

to describe, to show off, you were being filmed.

But the dead are still dead, and you killed them.

Whatever they said. Whatever they did.

I mean, you might as well become more involved in the murders?

First as accomplice but eventually taking an active role.

It's not boring at least. It's meaningful, in a way.

It's a kind of occupational hazard, for a crew member, such as you.


This poem is taken from his 2021 book 'Come and See the Songs of Strange Days : poems on films' (Broken Sleep Books).


RELEASE : 1992

DIRECTORS: Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel

Other Books