Caroline Rumley

It’s been like this for a while.
I have this thing wrong with me.
Some kind of phobia or something.

It happens when I read the paper,
if there is a tragic event or a disaster.

You know, like the planes flying into the Twin Towers.
Those stories of the people jumping out of the skyscrapers.
The other people across the way watching them jump
and fall.

Or about whatever recent plane crash.
What the last minutes were like for the people
before they plunged to their deaths.

Or the day’s police shooting of a black man.
This shooting stuff is even worse for the phobia,
because you can watch it over and over on youtube.

Anyway, the phobia is like this.

I am deep into the story
and when I am just about to the point when everyone dies,
I am convinced
for a split second
that the awful thing
that has been documented as having happened,


The narrative has stopped.
It can go the other way.
There is time for a Hollywood ending.

The people will be rescued from the burning buildings.
The plane will regain altitude and get back on course.
The the dead man will rise up and walk away.

That’s it.
That’s the phobia I have.
The hope that he will get up.

He’ll just get back up.








Caroline Rumley is a multi-modal storyteller born in Maiden, North Carolina. After stints in D.C., L. A., Istanbul, Berlin, and eastern Tennessee, she landed in Atlanta, where she is surrounded by her husband, daughter, a sturdy pit bull named Dixie, and Wilbur the cat. She holds an M.F.A. in Theatrical Design from UT Austin and is currently studying Film and Video in the graduate program at Georgia State University. Her recent work includes both moving and still images and is currently on view at the Houston Center for Photography until August 27th.

Process notes
I have been working through footage of police shootings for over a year now, trying to find a way to somehow express my feelings about the situation. Showing the killings in a mashup was just too awful and crass. What I really wanted was to somehow turn back time so the killings wouldn’t have happened. That solution seemed to work with the footage, and then the poem wrote itself.

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