Sharp Noir (Part II)

In the atrophic night-time,

a bluesman hides between

hotel rooms under an assumed name;

a friend once removed

of Harriet Tubman, “You’ll

be free or die.” He mists

a pane to meet the gaze

of a supermodel’s hound

on the street below:

two orgiastic flashbulbs

over a set of opal barbs.

The illustrious are ushered in

as the midnight wind

turns cooked to raw;

an excessive saccharine

of single line anathemas

punctuate the eluting, grain liquor

payola correspondence of

the cerberi at the door, who

with each glance convict

me of loitering.

I elbow-pin the Herald

as a prop only, roll and spark

to employ the hands,

looking down, counting old gum.

They Zippo lick me with scimitar

eyes well drilled from working

the derby Switchboard.

To a scherzo laced with code,

we infect each other with smiles,

impersonal benevolence: an old-style

injunction now just a passing

trick glimpsing teeth.

I’m standing ad hoc,

antonym to this vulgar mode

and so attract the intentions

of the heaped obscenities

- one enormous flexing nerve

counting Houblons; their effluvium

smacks of it, spectres quickly

make them for tea, pectin,

dunking pound cake.

They got cured fitting last

winter’s coats and turning

out the pockets.

One gorged Boa says,

“Boy – you Kasey Jones?”

A fork to his wit, I return,

“The name’s Romano, relax

- I’m only here for the Jazz.”

“Drag about your Dad,

we’ve got what’cha need.”

The waitress thinks

I’m Omar Sharif minus mustache.

Singularly original, a sufferer

from the delirium of higher intelligence,

The Noir Balladeer calmly sits,

plays Rhapsody in Blue

on a comb and tissue paper;

an outpatient from the

mild deviant ward: sectioned

for incendiary poetry,

she wrote songs on her padded walls,

bade the multitudes get a grip,

amongst the tempestuous noises

of sadism in this sparking jive nexus.

Grab a ticket at the desk.

Dr. Cassis, a hollow-eyed

technician from the plague era,

operates here, a conscript pedlar

of syrup and pills to vexed

kinship systems long overdue

extinction: a shamski lawyer

of medicine, errand runner

at the Chaumière de Dolmance.

There’s a sharpening of vision

in his waiting room:

we’re drowners thirsty to our

last breaths, even the reptile

gamblers adopt the stoicism

of wage earners. We discard

our beliefs at the ballot desk

like heavy, plumed helmets

too hot to wear in the midday sun.

Cassis murdered his guides

to be on the safe side,

carved runes of aptitude

in every cubicle until recruited

to the court of the Rubix Queen.

Her Switchboard mechanism

is perpetual, manned out of habit,

implies its necessity

and so creates pundits and enthusiasts,

equally fecundates the angst

of bitter jetsam to its ascribed kismet.

As one of the Rubix Queen’s courtiers,

lost in spontaneous furies,

surroundings seem incidental;

I stretch wide my arms

as if to perform some kind of dance

- perhaps among the antebellum pillars

of disgrace this desperation will fade.

Now, for the first time,

this protagonist can be spared

tedium and relish scandal in her

high-society supporting cast

of refugee artmen, never redden

again in shame when mentioning

the considered prurient in front

of those too desensitized

by talcum to welcome pleasures

stoked close to core desires,

forget axioms and tenets drummed

into her when she was young and Christian.

Some new lover will glide

into bed like a moonbeam

and I will accede entirely,

consumed by the immediate,

no thought to consequence

- tragedy rewards so the immortal

may die, a comedy is torn:

no audience laughs at the same joke

twice – my mind skips as of

a man bred in the wild,

every obstacle met in silence;

only with the caballi

will I produce ravings

of the most obscure kink.

In the thrill of lovers’ gambit

my watch trips backwards

and a casket of weakness

is exposed, drawing with it

an unctuous sickness,

irresolvable in my discomfort,

as when I thought it ruminative

for great heroes to die young;

one of mine said everybody does.

Some lives cuff out as

mis-quotations of popular phrase,

The Colonel’s was one to glimpse

the truer scansion of the iambic universe,

his history spelt out in short, dim

telegrams like the subject of myth.

always fearing to awaken and find

himself dead, he advised, “Kiss the girl

next to you, take upward flight,

forget the cold outside.”

To each charge I show

a new side to my prism,

a simple note in the margin

of a newspaper column.

maybe, like him, one night

idle love will conspire a razor’s

whisper around my throat.

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