On a train bound for a sanatorium
in some Ozark backwater you meet Poe Girl.
Pale, statuesque, her black onyx eyes
luminous as the key to the numinous door
to a dollhouse lousy with creepers, she’s distilling
a novel from her voluminous diary.
You invoke the person from Porlock to derail
her train of thought, the snailtrail purling eerie
theories in her ear. Severed hands
massage her to liquefaction & then crawl
away, fandango de mort of albino spiders
in Chinese-violet kliegshine. Poe Girl plays
in a dead-letter cemetery, her sparkler
cutting arabesques in the dark, illumining
the tusks. She sits on a stoop–the deck of a sloop–
to brood, to smoke Luckies. Her lipstick nooses
the filter. She rolls her kohl-rimmed eyes inward
to scrutinize her soul. She leads a secluded
life of shoegazing among graveyard monuments,
marble statues looming over her, lucent,
ensouled. They entrust her with riprap encrusted
with barnacles. Swathed in snazzy, battleship-grey
regalia, Poe Girl rappels down the petroglyph
on the sheer rockface, presaging the squeegeeing of
a calculator window. The lid laps
the shore of the eye. The sloop heaves to alongside
a hoodoo of blue flame; the hoodoo’s shadow
slowly lengthens across the street–a seam
running up the back of Poe Girl’s stocking,
the slipstream of a kite on a Dionysian voyage,
yawing & swooping just for kicks, with interludes
of tranquility spent sitting in a greasy spoon
on the outskirts of town, watching the nocturnal
passersby like Poe in “The Man of the Crowd.”
The jangle of leper-bells tells you the sideshow geeks
are approaching, funk-guns drawn, itching to zap
the patrons breakfasting on atrocities.
The waitress, a tattooed Poe Girl, pours them industrial-
strength coffee brewed from ground zeroes. She pours
acid on your placidity: you flake
out, flamethrower the carcass of a boozehound
chloroformed by a killing jar, jump off
a butte, hover in the grey void, the primordial
beeswax. Below, the covert is agape
to be fed a brace of Poe Girls, both of them
plumbing your soul, ethereal, empathic, solicitous
to assuage your suffering at being separated
from God. You glide gyrfalconback through the dark
night of the soul, scavenging stars. Yahrzeit candles
burgeon on your hatbrim; by their ineffable
radiance you watch with lowering gaze as carrion
in a ditch is gradually scavenged away, as a marginal note
in a library book is gradually effaced.
The pelican cadges cash, stashes it in his beak.
When inanition creeps over Poe Girl, she
beseeks the thunderheads to disgorge their loot
like one-armed bandits. She drops a cruzado in
the suckpool, shies a cat’s eye at the cauldron;
you drop a comet with one snipeshot, snapshoot
Poe Girl slipping out of a gold lamé dress.
You douse her body in the cacophony of crows.
A wave of feedback from triple Marshall stacks
coagulates into a screen for black-&-white horror flicks.
You & Poe Girl coalesce, a collage
like “Revolution 9,” which percolates
from a transistor radio you often toss in bathtubs
to electrocute the bather. “Hello, this is
Dr. Drayhorse. I’m not in right now,
but if you leave your spouse & children, I’ll
get back to you as soon as I extricate
myself from this iron maiden.” BEEP.