ReadingRoom

Book of the Week: A dream of Jeannie

A highlight from the latest issue of literary journal Landfall is a remarkable poem inspired by I Dream Of Jeannie.

Barbara Eden’s Screams

1.

It was the 70s.

There wasn’t much on.
 

They lured us in

with cartoon credits
 

smacked us

with the laugh track.
 

Why weren’t we laughing?

Why were they?
 

2.

Jeannie’s bottle—

patriarchal symbol but damn

inside it looked cosy.
 

3.

Also, weirdly, erotic.
 

4.

So many situations

dissolving via pink smoke

into a mulberry cushioned

safe space appeals.
 

5.

Although …

bathroom, bedroom, kitchen?

Not much real

estate in that thing.
 

6.

Where in a world curved

in on itself

does the fetching light

on your boobs

originate?
 

7.

‘Despite the fact Jeannie is subservient to Tony Nelson, she is still ultimately an independent and capable woman.’

—Barbara Eden
 

8.

<cough> Stockholm syndrome.
 

9.

Honest opinion?

Way more fun to be a genie than have a genie.

Fucking annoying, some sarcastic broad

hanging off your neck causing chaos.
 

10.

No agency? Come on,

that bottle waggled about

like no one’s business,

drawing cute attention to itself.
 

11.

Anyone surprised Hagman was a jerk?

Clearly not the star. Well down the list

behind the bottle, Barbara

and those diaphanous pants.
 

12.

Poor Larry, angry alcoholic

man-baby who urinated on set

and abused guest actors.

Well, enough about him.

Once the director left Barbara Eden

trapped in a prop bottle for two hours

while the cast went for lunch.
 

13.

Pizza, pasta, burger—

what could you stomach

knowing you’ve left a woman

in a bottle?
 

14.

(they taped her screams and used them in the show)
 

15.

We weren’t laughing,

I like to think we sensed it.

Something mean.

The echo of Barbara Eden’s screams.


From the new issue of Landfall 239, edited by Emma Neale (Otago University Press, $30), featuring the work of such as Patricia Grace, Malinna Liang, Emer Lyons, Talia Marshall, Vincent O’Sullivan, and Leanne Radojkovich; available in bookstores nationwide.

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