Martin Heavisides MIDNIGHT, AFTER

These are not normal times, a teacup might well be a murder vessel
Pastry crumbs might help discover a trail false transit orders had obscured.

Grass stains were messages written in unforeseen languages
Not what you’d expect from a bumpy slide down a hil

I didn’t know if I recognized the street where the crime was staged
Certainly not the stranger
Standing on the subway track in the city of light.

A sliver of moon or a fat round beacon
Which is more fitting for garrot or pistol?

A bell tolls in pursuit of a fleeing figure
Minute traces of apricot danish on a microscopic slide.

"If they can put a man on the moon and a camera on Mars
Why can’t they reconstruct the whole youth and childhood of a killer
From minute glass granules tweezered at the crime scene?"

"But that’s exactly how the case was solved!"
"Exactly! And now the true killer is at large
The false killer sues for exhorbitant damages
The coffers of the state can ill afford."

"In the old days he’d have been hung! certainly we’d regret it
Should we once discover our error
But the cost! we’d save considerably on that."
"I don’t know, heirs and relations. . . " "Oh, really
Are those still in fashion? I’d heard otherwise."

Under the rain-dripping awning I watched the smoke curl up
From my cigarette as I studied a distant window.

Parties are held in comfortable rooms with fireplaces
Through the glimmering blaze might be just electric illusion.

Smoke tea leaves bloodsock kettle poppy
Wind chime sudden gust is somebody there?
Who’s that reflected in the curve of the kettle?
What’s in his hand where the image curls out of sight?

I couldn’t be certain I’d been hired to investigate
But I certainly had unlimited credit and air miles
And well-tailored suits for concealing an equalizer.

"If he’s anywhere on this round teeming earth
I’ll track him and he and his crimes will cease."
"But surely vigilante justice is not civilization’s way!"
"If he’s orbitting somewhere in space. . . sorry what that you said!"

Some countries are harder than others to enter and leave
Some I fled as an exile, some under clouds of suspicion.
To be on the right side of the law’s a rare event
Though I never went as far on the wrong side as murder.

Lately I’ve traded gunfire on foour of six habitable continents
Out of character, I was aiming to kill
So was the man I was tracking but we were both slippery
I had no death on my conscience but who was hunting whom?

My air miles had air miles, a previously undiscovered talent for disguise
Sometimes gained me a step or two, but my prey was elusive
Never himself of the same appearance twice
Little trails of tea and flaked pasty were sometimes left to annoy me
Unless I was twins I couldn’t see how he was second guessing so well.

I was some help keeping his victim count down
Stopping me in my tracks I think became an obsession
Sometimes I got a step too far ahaead and heard footsteps behind me.

Once we both disguissed ourselves as the same noted restarauteur
Opening franchises in rival cities a scant hundred miles apart
Both falling in love with the same beautiful woman
Who couldn’t tell us apart though she didn’t know it
Whom I, at least, was concerned to keep alive.

Heard rumours of an aerialist’s balloon speeding upward
Nearing escape velocity before it crashed burning to earth
Inspected the wreckage, DNA specs in hand and heart in mouth.

Lived fourteen days in a well disguised as an overlarge frog
Studying for signs of artificial tampering with the moss
A snake slithered by me at one moment hissing
The old school tie and tux set off alarm bells of suspicion.

Notes were exchanged: "If things could only happen at the right time precisely
You’d be amazed how void of incident life would be."
"Can there ever be a right time for murder?" "You seem to think so.
I have bullet nicks on both ears to prove it."
"I beg to differ. Hounding to bloody earth an animal such as you. . . "
"I never give to beggars and blood? I prefer to keep it."

"Why did you murder my fiancee?" "An accident I regretted
At the time and more so now. I’d love to retire.
All this chasing round the globe and gunfire business is a nuisance.
Isn’t it time we called it quits?"
"Stand still just once when I shoot and we will. Otherwise
Not while I’ve got a frequent flier mile left to my name."
I was known in many places, "Your money’s no good" they’d say.

When I’ve finished this, will there be other assisgnments?
Pleased he’s so weary of the chase but me?
Pepetual mystery, exotic climes
Scars, near misses, beautiful trembling women
It’s like a bath for every sense at once
Including those we’ve never got round to naming
Drugs I can take or leave and frequently do
But the pulse beat just beneath the skin on the wrist
You know the one I mean, it rides a blue vein
As the trail leads past alleys with feet poking out behind garbage cans
Past scenes of industrial blight and gorgeous excess consumption
A world of resplendent evil against which a shadow play for two
Of small morality works its inexorable course
That I can take and take and will with each animate breath
Apart from anything else, I’ve never been a saver
When this one’s done I hope there’s another assignment.

Martin Heavisides
has published his first novel, Undermind, at Crossing Chaos Press, a full-length play, a study of the English playwright Peter Barnes, a very rude essay on ideas about God and a study of Louis Armstrong in Linnet’s Wings; Film Rights and Practica in Sein Und Werden; a poem in Cella’s Round Trip; a poem cycle in FRiGG; Cubist Torso and a cartoon in Mad Hatter’s Review; a flash in Gambara, to name only a few. He expects to be featured in an animated film soon impropria persona. Rumours of a yellow teddy bear as muse are rigorously denied.

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