Monday, November 15, 2010

This area may contain assassins

You sauntered up, all legs, and calmly said,
“Just dance,” so I held you close,
head high, hips sly, tossing off bon mots
while keeping your sleek body
between me and that goon with the gun.

I ignored the nuns in the casino,
letting you sit in my lap for luck and black jack,
snapping your garter with each new card,
a surreptitious little superstition
that made you smirk
but quickly attracted the eye in the sky.

“Slide the winnings in a suitcase and fetch my car,”
I told the cage, flipping the dealer six chips as a tip
while surveillance cameras swiveled
to see the seams on your stockings
strut out to the street.

It’s remarkable anyone could drive
after all that cognac and champagne,
yet such a relief to know
you’d never slip something in my drink,
except maybe an organic lychee.

I went straight back to the cave,
not bothering to blindfold you
or take fake turns or
even worry about a tail.

Sure, they chewed me out the next day —
but I knew what I was doing.

The boys down in the motor pool
keep filling in the bullet holes and banging out the dents.

The lab has scrubbed the interior so many times,
our history could be told in a series of cigar stubs
and strands of hair in tiny, labeled plastic bags.
They even installed that baby ejector seat in back.

It’s been a long road,
with our share of ugly scenes, bad dialogue,
and more than a few continuity errors,
yet you’re still there
when I have to drop the top and hit the gas.

And before I even ask,
you’re elegantly passing me the pistol from the glove box.

You freshen your lipstick. I talk to my watch,
then we exchange familiar grins.
It’s going to be fine, baby.

It’s going to be just fine.


  1. Thanks to Ed's daughter, Sophie, who was explaining over dinner the other night how at her high school they "hang Paradox in the bathroom." That strange phrase came shortly before she used the title of this poem in a sentence and then said something about "nuns in a casino." I must say, I never expected to write spy spoof poetry (spook spoof?).

    And many thanks to my dear friend Kyra, who transformed me from a swing dancer into a blues dancer one night with a very simple statement: "Just dance like a spy." After an invitation like that, nothing is ever the same.

  2. "Just dance like a spy."

    There's another poem ready to unfold :)

  3. Actually, this poem was born from the collision of that statement with the nuns in the casino. In the first couple of drafts of this poem, that's exactly what "she" said. But eventually the word "spy" just seemed redundant. What do you think?