Why We Chose It: “The Usual Things” by Courtney LeBlanc

There is an idea that horror films grant the watcher a way to test their personal and collective limits in a safe environment in order to re-establish a sense of control over fear. Courtney LeBlanc gives us a glimpse into this idea in her poem, “The Usual Things.” With a global pandemic underway, fear runs rampant in all our hearts. And as Courtney says, “Our brains are going to focus on something- so we may as well choose which direction it goes.”

“The Usual Things” blends horror scenes such as in the Exorcist where, “the little girl spiderwalks down the stairs backwards” and a mix of realistic actions and images such as “the eight-foot tall animatronic clown that stands by the gas station closest to my house.” These images form a horrifyingly realistic and relatable piece that showcases how we use and are affected by fear. 

This poem gripped me the first time I read it, as it’s something I do myself. When everything is spiraling out of control, and the world seems too scary to even consider facing, being able to control any form of fear whether it’s from a horror movie, book, or in more dangerous forms, when you pass a hand or finger through a flame quickly. The chance to be burned is there, but not if you pass through the flame quickly enough. The control is in your hands, the fear is in the action, but yet it’s comforting enough to make you keep doing it. You maintain control in a way you don’t when fearing reality. At the end of this poem, the speaker says, “I’ll worry only about the storm drain, I’ll check under the bed and behind the curtains, I’ll go to bed haunted, but not by the usual things.” 

Gray Dawson, Lead Poetry Editor

Read this poem in Issue 5 of Levitate Magazine, available on our website on May 25! And join us for our launch reading on YouTube at 7 pm Central on May 25.

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