Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Murphy makes history!

He is featured in what is almost certainly the only complete detective story ever written entirely in pentameter.

In the poem "Thanks for Everything," Dr. Justice sings of dames and a man.


High upon noon, the sun unblinking stands,
and sheds his rays down on the quiet street,
where, frozen in siesta, nothing stirs.
Unmoving Murphy waits behinds the blinds,
his narrowed eyes still scan the street through slits.
The whiskey in the bottle now is low,
and with the liquor ebbs his hope's last drop
that any client to him ever come,
and bow, and beg, and say: I crave a boon.

Yet hark, upon the hushed midsummer air
a click of heel on pavement hither comes,
now hurried, now hesitating if to go,
now gaining strength, and resolutely on.

Thus Murphy lifts the lit butt to his lips
and sucks a drag that fills his hungering lungs.
A hundred questions wrestle in his mind.
A dame in trouble, come to seek his aid,
or trouble itself, in lipstick and high heels?
Yet beggars no choosers be, cannot refuse
what Fate flings laughing on their empty plate.
With firm resolve he stubs the ember out,
shuts the booze drawer, in calm awaits the knock.

It comes, though softly, tentative at first,
as if not meaning it, or practicing,
then hearing no response, begins to beat
more loudly now, and with a quicker pace,
till flailing with both fists upon the oak
she sends reverberation through the room.

Squaring his shoulders, Murphy pulls the door.
A redhead on the threshold startles back,
then lowers her hands, and swiftly is blasée.
"So you're the private eye?" she says and shrugs,
looking about the room with some distaste,
its bare floor flecked with ashes and old burns,
and scattered dishes crusted in the sink.

Murphy looks too, her new gaze points afresh
to scenes grown dim to him, since over-known.
The faded paint, one square of darker hue
where once a painting hung in place, now pawned;
a calendar depicting power tools
while babes in swimsuits wield them with a grin –
he starts, to note it shows the last month's date.

To her his gaze returns: say five-foot-six,
compact of build, and nearing middle age,
the which with rouge she labors to disguise.
Her lipstick clashes with her carrot-top;
her nails are yet another shade of red.

"Yawanna stare s'more," she ups and snaps,
"or are ya gonna aks a lady in?"
He blinks and winces, wordless waves her on,
and fumbles for a smoke: he needs a friend.
She looks around as though she spots no chair;
he pulls it towards her, gestures, mumbles "Please."
She shakes her curls and sits down, ladylike.
He sits down on the keg, and smokes, and waits.

"So you're a private eye," she says again,
but this time looks him fully in the face.
He nods; what can he add; and still he waits.
"Just happens I got a little job for you.
My man run out on me – the dirty rat.
I figure you can hunt him up for me.
I'll lay a C-spot on you for your time."

To her the gumshoe: "Finding guys' my game."

He obviously takes the case--wouldn't be a detective poem if he didn't. To read the rest, as well as more traditional detective stories (meaning, written in prose), you can buy I Don't Do Divorce Cases, available in hardcopy or Kindle through Amazon.