Tony Trigilio’s recent poetry collections are Book 1 of The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) (BlazeVOX Books, 2014) and White Noise (Apostrophe Books, 2013). He is editor of Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments (Ahsahta Press, 2014). He hosts the monthly poetry podcast Radio Free Albion and plays in the band Pet Theories. He is Interim Chair of the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago.


"Happy New Year, 1968" and
"Barnabas's vampire bat bite"


Tony Trigilio

Happy New Year, 1968

From Book 2, The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

Happy New Year, 1968: the Tet Offensive
starts all over South Vietnam in 29 days

and Jeremiah is now played in death—
fatally shot in his dual with Barnabas

—by Tim Gordon, a Dark Shadows extra
whose hand was used for the famous

shot in Episode 210 of the vampire
reaching from his casket to choke

grave-robbing Willie Loomis; a ghost,
his head wrapped in bloody bandages, 

Gordon takes over the part from
Anthony George, who was Jeremiah

after playing Burke Devlin in 1967
(replacing the show’s first Burke, 

Mitch Ryan, who was fired for
showing up drunk to rehearsals

and tapings): Jeremiah’s ghost takes
revenge on Angelique, burying her

alive, inaugurating the first day of
the second year of my life with another

of director Lela Swift’s familiar first-
person POV internment shots, Jeremiah 

looking down on us (my mother
and I watching on New Year’s Day,

seeing everything through the eyes
of Angelique lying in Jeremiah’s

open grave), the ghost dropping
handfuls of dirt on the camera lens, 

leaving viewers with persistent
after-images of being buried alive,

the soil slowly covering them whole.


Barnabas’s vampire bat bite

From Book 2, The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood)

Barnabas’s vampire bat bite, a merciful
end (for me, anyway) to the dream-curse

plotline—“We’re going to hear the dogs
howling again,” Willie says on 7/15/68,

“and every night Barnabas is going to be
prowling around, and every day he’s

going to be in that coffin”—but the demise
of the dream-curse wouldn’t spare me, 

age two, from ongoing Dark Shadows
nightmares, as if our TV were a magic box, 

an electronic portal opened unto
the spirit world, a supernatural 

transmitter documenting the undead
life of the 208-year-old creature who 

lived inside the walls of my own house; 
I took for granted that our TV functioned 

as a conduit for a “two-directional exchange
between occultism and technology,” as media 

scholar Stefan Andriopolous describes
the earliest precursors of the television: 

nineteenth-century optical devices designed
for remote viewing and clairvoyance, 

leading many early twentieth-century
viewers to believe that to watch TV 

was to experience “the uncanny occurrence
of the supernatural or marvelous in one’s 

own living room”—a concept of television
technology that degenerated by 1968 into 

a mass-produced rabbit-eared video
receiver of a kitschy witch-and-vampire 

melodrama capable of triggering
constant nightmares for two-year-olds 

like myself who suffered from insomnia
even when we weren’t sleeping with our 

shoulders hunched to ward off vampires