Welcome mat

Her serrated scissor smile bares auriferous caps and barely concealed rubies on artificially plump lips, as she pours pyrite pleasantries over late night, lamplit sidewalks and creeping, drive-by lechery

She’s made threats of paper dolls to ensnare desperate secret keepers into paying for secrets and keeping nothing else, and spit out flurries of giant snowflakes for those who can only afford to supplement her habits

Morpho menelaus perch above her unscrupulous, squinting eyes, as she chain smokes with clinquant claws buried beneath the peeling paint of baroque gaud; buried within the backhands and promised lands of they who force feed her

Dressing half her age, and getting half the pay, from men that project more hate than she can reflect; she’s stuck in her own honey trap, stirring in the bitterness through cyclic repetition of septic recompense

Sometimes when the night is still, she’ll lie in bed listening to the steady, stalwart footfalls in her chest of approaching Death, and she wonders when he’ll grace the welcome mat she’s placed before her door

Nun the wiser

nun

She expected the spider’s web to shimmer, having felt the draft an instant before. Nothing more than a peripheral afterthought, as she prepares her Rosary, in the heat of mid-afternoon. As she prepares to pray for him.

Her cell is modestly decorated in passing time and empty space. A single bed, made each morning with military precision, lies unkempt. Small depressions mark the eternities spent kneeling at her thirdhand prie-dieu.

Dust glistens in the light filtering through the open window. A mesmerizing breeze ushers in visitors destined for the spider’s web, in natural brutality. The room is otherwise closed, like the minds that came before. A requirement of its occupancy.

Staring out to the ancient oak, upon which sits an empty nest, she contemplates the wretched twisting of leaf and twig, where once were babies cradled. Its time has surely past; probably will chance never again to bear the young. Can that be true?

She feels the wooden beads between her lithe fingers, and wonders how many decades have past between them. How can this simple chain hold all of the mysteries, when it leaves only space for twenty?

Each tear in her fractious faith, each breath in her silent servitude, each heartbeat in her doubtful dedication, she counts. Numbers much greater than twenty, and mysteries all. Another tear falls, landing on the crucifix.

Rust has stained her hand red, as the peccant years passed with these vacillations. She looks down as her thumb runs over the engraved, nearly worn smooth, Made In China on the back. Not joyous, or sorrowful, or glorious, or luminous; it’s just a mystery.

A rap at her cell door lifts her out of reverie. It creaks open and the new Father greets her with a trepidatious smile. She returns it. Answers only ever come when the mind wanders freely, when not chained by the chain.

She diverts his attention to the bird’s nest outside. Extols its beauty and ultimate sadness, while moving toward the door. She prayed, and he came. The sound of the lock prompts the Father to turn inquisitively.

He stammers as she slides off her habit, letting her raven hair fall over her shoulders. She raises a red-handed finger to her lips and begins to disrobe. He backs away, but he’s young, impressionable. She places a hand on his chest, his heart is galloping…

And a rap at the door startles her from the unexpected slumber. Freedom is not a sin, sin is simply a choice of freedom. She dries her eyes before welcoming entry. Then the door creaks open, and she smiles as the new Father crosses her threshold.

Is another man’s treasure

Slip through the night he must, challenging the darkness in corner and alleyway, twixt apothecary and bakery, ‘tween hovel and cesspit.

I must embrace the space where shadows lurk, if I’m to quest successfully this night.

…he whispers to himself, knowing his treasure is nigh.

He pauses to hearken for a rumble of the dragon overhead; the beast has been here recently, the air is befouled by its mephitic stench, so he mustn’t tarry long.

It’s a still eve, music and melodist can be heard from yonder alehouse, the varlets and ruffians who frequent the place are almost as dangerous as the dragon, when toped with a bumper of mead.

Go with caution, lest ye suffer the recompense of a misfortunate existence…

But ere he continued, forsooth, ere his next breath, he espied a patrol approaching. He cowers, willing himself into a common rat. They shone their torches thither he hid, but appear not to espy him, or not to care enough to stop.

He makes haste across the final leg of his journey, whitherward his fortune lay in wait, passing the strumpets enticing bucks, chapmen begging for doit, and cutpurses absconding with their take.

Nary feet from his prize, he freezes in terror…

A steed approacheth! That can only mean a knight is on the march, he would surely run me through! Mayhaps he seeks the same treasure as I!

He panics and begins to dig frantically through the rubble and refuse, and is elated to quickly come upon that which he seeks.

A tocsin briefly split the silence, as red and blue fulgurations swirl around him, whence the guard approacheth…

You ok, buddy? You must be freezing…

It matters not, he thinks. In his hand, he beheld the impetus of his quest. A fist-sized ruby, barely brown on one edge, but uncorrupt. Sweetly fragrant and nearly whole.

Dispatch, we have a 10-73, at the corner of 10th and Broadway, under the el; seems harmless enough, but his faculties are definitely impaired; probably lives in one of these nearby alleys, by the looks of him…

His wild hair and beard whipped with the frigid, gusting wind; while his emaciated frame struggled to cleave to the rags on his back. Esurient, he lifted the browning, half-eaten apple to his lips…

…and 10-85, dispatch. How about we leave the sirens off, I have no desire to spook him again.

We’ll get you out of here, pal. Just hang in there; we’ll get you someplace warm.

He was unconcerned by the train rumbling overhead, pulling with it noxious fumes from the street. A blanket was laid across his shoulders to shield the winter chill, as he licked his bony fingers. Not even his core remained. This night he dined like a King.

Naked poetry

As I encroached the morning mere, a lonely pock on its pristine shore, I espied a damsel knelt naked at the water’s edge, beneath heaven’s reproach

She had yet to notice my presence and I was disinclined to disturb her respite, howbeit I could not avert my marvel

She beguiled me with every move, envincing ballads in elegantly folded hands resting upon her lap and elegies with the downward cast of her tilted gaze

With a cinquain, she reached for the gold, cordate lavaliere that adorned her gracile neck, detaching it with utmost fluency

Hinged delicately at its tip, she opened fully an obcordate half, though what was held within the periapt, I knew not

A miniature hourglass simulacra when opened, flowed not with sabulous moments, but salinity she fed in its stead; then a lacrimosa that only streamed widdershins, betrayed the inscape of her torment

And I found myself reifying the sorrow as it obnubilated her visage, shedding my own time with hers

She had a threnody where her heart should be, and I was appetent to tear her limn from limn

But at once she stood in an enjambment of grace, her bistred sonnets waved with the lamentous wind, her satin, laced gown rippled in obeisant verse

Then a faint, determined plash in the water nigh, ere she turned empty-handed; and with the zephyr fared to the circumjacent wood, sans a backward glance

She was poetry, naked for the world to read, and reperfused my wizened heart

The forest path

He once walked the
forest’s path beneath
its saber arch, listening
to the march of crisp,

falling leaves in the
distance, electrified
by the banshee wails
of crickets keening

through the trees, lulled
into serenity by the
songbird’s reverie
Then from a voluptuous

horizon, came she;
variegating his dwelling
in silvery pendalogues,
poetical prisms, and

sombrous piquancy; wetting
his canopy into myriad
resplendent waterfalls,
accompanying his lullabies

with subdued percussive salt
Until her tempest fell; wild
violence unburdened by
loyalty, deafening howls

disencumbered by honour,
rending a lightning seared
wasteland of stochastic
devastation, clouded by jejune

jealousy and capricious char
His is a forest of memories,
smothered by oppressive
towering rampikes; skeletal

dreams piercing once
vibrant flora, longing
to caress the azure skies
beyond their handless

grasp, seen only when he
ventures paths within
Alone he waits in quietus,
a velleitous tree dying

in the barren wildwood; no
melodies to share his
company, no honour guard
to inhume his bones; his

roots trapped by the soil’s
filth, his marrow decayed
by the forest’s corruption

The gambler

Gimme your damn wallet

Said the middle-aged pyknic, in a slow and deep cadence. A clearly edacious black man, with an air of dumbfounded innocence. His pinguid complexion bled rancid stains beneath rolls and rotund. While a mayfly’s attention echoed in his cleanly shaven dome.

Gimme your damn wallet

A macilent, black youth wearing a white, tank-top and a minacious gaze. The gold-toothed bruxist, seethed the words with venomous bravado. He was a sheep in wolf’s clothing, surrendering to a survival instinct that perhaps worked better in darkness, than a well lit room.

Gimme your damn wallet

The hoary, flocculent patches of his otherwise dark hair, betrayed his age; as much as the tired wisdom reflected in his watery, bloodshot eyes. His measured, nonchalant delivery, showed he’d been here before; he knew the routine. A gelid, gliding stream hidden within a sinewy, ebony derma.

Gimme your damn wallet

An obviously hispanic accent, flourished each syllable with susurrus threats. He had coriaceous skin, covered in a black, hirsute down almost as thick as the monochrome tattoos constellated across his aggressive frame. His bandoline hair, was pulled back into a ponytail that hung away from his heavily inked neck, as his jaw protruded forward in defiance.

Gimme your damn wallet

Chittered the glaucope, in a rapid, pauseless utterance. His cyanic eyes darted vagariously around the room, from above rubicund, haughty cheeks. Nervous, but in an unperturbed way. Like a confident gambler betting on a sure thing, but harboring a morsel of realistic doubt. An anxious excitement anticipating a favourable outcome.

Do any of these voices sound like the man who killed your wife? asked the detective standing to his right in front of the 2-way, almost guarding the token white.

The old man wonders if they are aware of this gradience of guilt. Is this layered lineup learned after years in law enforcement, or is it bred into them at the academy? It could simply be a coincidence. Or it could be a bad seed.

He knew he was wasting time, but they all sounded the same to him. He didn’t see the perpetrator, and only heard – or only remembered hearing – that phrase.

Gimme your damn wallet

He deeply wanted justice, but would justice return his wife? His breathing had become operose. The detective looked at him with impatience, but otherwise little concern.

The old man didn’t know who it was, but the police surely must. This was just a formality, right? Everyone here is guilty of something. Did it really matter? He just wanted this to be over, so he could grieve.

Finally, he concluded that he had no choice but to gamble, too. So with a tearful gesture, and his voice caught in a viscous, bubbling tar, he noncommittally waved his trembling hand leftward, and muttered

It was him.

Tant mieux

She stitches her lips with little white lies
Then tastes wet iron, as the silvered needles sway like windchimes
Beneath her noisome, tarnished words

Harboring an appetency for secrets and deceit
Her euphonious whiplash would beguile callers with playful dispraisals from sanguine smiles
Then she’d lie awake in her chamber, counting the bruises; accompanied only by the sillage of lust and loss

Scooped from beggar’s row, this maiden’s flaxen locks flowed in stark relief to the gutter and grime
More striking still, her brilliant, snowglobe eyes
Niveous orbs holding countryside châteaux, into which she’d escape amid the violent violations of her virtue

Now a subtle snarl ever cleaves these camouflaged lips that overbrim with her miasmic verse
But only as her interrogations end, per the de rigueur of the oldest profession
The malison of a magdalen, forever gyved to her lot

A femme fatale armed with a buss and a bodkin
She’s an intelligencer hunting her abusers in an ambuscade of ambrosia
And sometimes, before her violent violations for their villainy, she sees them recall the countryside châteaux in her hoarfrost eyes

Tant mieux
They’ll find no refuge in those snowcapped sanctuaries, she knows all the hiding places
Her raison d’être was born in those bloody, tear-filled halls
And she takes great pleasure in providing them the tour