He is a cold witness, as chill
as a slip of rime on the lip
of a crisp new beer. For weeks
I chased his rumour, sharp alleys
un-vexed by daylight, garbage
mansions bearding freeway struts.
This shade sits easy in my office,
his lids half-cupped as eyes check
evidence stacks for entertainments.
'The whisper is you want some words.'
My list of questions is as long
as the walk to the liquor store,
but the one I choose is short: why?
'Who asks?' As he tilts his head
to scratch his beard I spot hemp-weave
patterns scorched deep in his neck.
My stare flicks to the desk where lies
a Gideons, liberated from its hotel
drawer by the woman who hired me.
'I choked, and yet I breathe again.'
His smile is quick and sad, a crack
of tooth between louse-lush fuzz ruddied
by the slant guttering of the sun.
I tell him of visions. I tell him
that night follows day and histories
walk the city's baked streets.
'He told me to do it.' he says.
'Anyone can get their hands and heels
nailed to some planks of wood!'
His face whips close: I catch rust webs
of bust veins etched on eye-whites -
his lung-dust stills my tongue.
'I loved him! I kissed him and when
our lips touched my name was seared
to the heart of every man alive
'and every child whelped after. I sense
my style beats within your chest
... you cannot afford my dogma!'