The night is black coffee— no sugar or cream—
and she appears in the window, a wakeful dream;
her sinuous silhouette beyond curtained shade,
backlit by candid candles that flicker and fade,
the crook of her spine as curved as a snake
and her bustline full, her figure lethal in make.
Below, the red light street lusts lustrously in rain
and a man in a fedora staggers down the lane,
his trenchcoat hiding a priceless photo portfolio,
his body wet from rain and a bleeding bullet hole.
The building is a bordello of shadow and of light,
the staircase rising into the rumor that is midnight
while insomniacs and sleepwalkers idle and drone
like soldiers, with shellshock, wandering a war zone.
She opens her door to him and he stumbles in,
asking her if Lucifer ever stank of so much sin
and throwing the photos onto her Babylonian bed—
sitting down, with a groan, his fedora falling from his head.
The photos are black and white and stained scarlet
with the passion of his spilling heart for his harlot.
She lights a cigarette, blowing smoke at his concerns,
then kisses the bullet hole with fire until it burns—
not to cauterize the wound, but to see if he can still feel
after all of these years in a world so monochrome and unreal.
“Was it worth it?” she asks him, dabbing her ashes into his hat.
He speaks of Vietnam, but she is a distracted, fickle cat.
She pushes him back onto the bed and straddles his waist,
her nakedness as stark and waking as the blood he can taste.
Undoing his clothes, she mounts him, her holster to his gun,
and smiles like a cat having caught a mouse on the run.
As she gyrates and clings to him like a vulture of love
he listens to the rain falling, like tears, on the rooftop above.
She is loving him to death, he knows, with each grind
of her predatory pelvis, juicing him like the rind
of a blood orange, colored like the flames of her candles,
and so he releases his hands from her swaying love-handles.
He grabs and tosses his hat at the candles near the curtain,
knocking them over, the tongues of fire climbing as if certain
they could reach heaven by rising from this doomed city,
like devils wanting to escape hell and beg for pity
even as they clamber over one another to reach the ceiling
and scramble together, victims unto victims, all unfeeling.
When she sees the flames, she hisses and tries to pull away,
but he holds her to him, in the bloody bed where he lay.
Seeing the look in his eyes, her scowl softens to a smile
and she continues to make love to him, tenderly, while
the flames circle the room, burning away all night—
all the shadows of the past, cast in the garish neon light.
The barking of black dogs, like thunder, is thereafter lost
beneath the heavy downpour, the sleepless city glossed
with sultry neon lights and angel tears from heaven
while devils set fire to their sins, each night—Eleven to Seven.