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.