chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn. a poem: After Barkeep Angelique Closes at Pequod Tavern. Jeff Alfier.

After Barkeep Angelique Closes at Pequod Tavern

 

Out in the parking lot under the weak

light of a waxing moon, I count

the tattoos that strut up her arm.

Eight green ones, all Chinese dragons.

 

A single red one is inscribed like a bloody

harpoon against Melville’s imperiled

sea. And there’s one more, just north

of her pubic bone. Or so the rumors go.

 

She tracks my eyes sliding up her arm,

swears she got them in the Marquesas

Islands, and pulls out a hash pipe

tucked somewhere below her belt.

 

The herb is brown or blonde, the best

Morocco offers. Her deep-winter eyes

shine in streetlight, and I come to know

they’d subdue the heart of any feral beast.

 

As our shared smoke sinks in, my head

clouds with chimeras. She says most

nights it’s the hoodoo of this sweet smoke

that keeps the demons at bay. Other nights

 

it’s the switchblade tucked in her bra,

veiled from the commerce of bourbon

and sweat. She wonders if the blade

is worth more than the blood it could take.

 

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