Poetry: Giallo | clivejames.com
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Soho. Reading a book on grief
and a cocktail menu. Long Island Baby
blows me a kiss sticky with vodka,

Malibu, orange and cranberry juice,
her thighs a mile of white sand, her rock pool eyes
swarming with the many-limbed creatures

of desire. I long to join her
till I remember that Long Island foams
with sharks and the bones of whalers,

bobs with the drowned buoys of bloated bathers.
The cocktail shaker racket brings me back
to this sugar-ringed table and Soho Square in the rain.

It’s been two years, but when the barmaid sees
my watering eyes, I say “My father just died.”
Not fair on her, but then your death

has made me mean and I change my order
to a Rusty Nail. She nods but it’s clear
this is a new one on her.

She’s all Baileys and crème de menthe,
milk and cherries. Would you have gone for her?
Philandering was your one and only optimism.

Crushed ice and the flash of chrome
slash back my midnight horrors of you.
Black gloves, flesh mask, felt fedora. You stalk

me down Italian lanes and Yorkshire snickets,
lurk in my bedroom, shoes under the curtain,
ready with razor, garrotte, ice pick.

Before I wake, you dig your skewers
into my brain, teasing apart the folds and lobes,
the carpaccio of flesh and memory, until

only the cocktail list can keep you at bay.
Two or three more and then, mio caro
assassino, you’ll be in the can.