03/07/2012 12:13 pm ET Updated May 07, 2012

The Obituary Mambo

Belch out rhapsodies of shifting sunsets
And watch the buildings crumble as atlas shrugged.
I sing not of this age nor time
But for those who preceded and will proceed
To the unbeatable beaten drum
Of kingdoms, kings, lieges, lords, and ladies.
Striking the alley walls with a stick just to hear
The hushed rats scurry towards their dens of newspaper,
Banana peels and epileptic prophylactics.
Shadowbox the dangerous felon himself
For his daunting stance frightens me
And causes the bravest of souls to wilt.
Rats run rampant in his wake, quiet
Cold as dew he shuffles, gently scraping
The nestled undertow of yesterday's news,
Dancing in the moon's pale light.
Where did he get those scars, I wonder.
They tell timeless tales in undulating rivulets
Of anger, rage, despair, and desperation
From his temple to his quivering dirt-smudged,
Moistened upper lip.
He whispered something less than sweet nothings
On a distant shore as the tide moaned low
Somewhere between Santa Cruz and the subtle
Subterfuges of a long forgotten dream.
Someone said he played a mighty fine game
Of rummikub, in fact one of the best,
In fact trying to quantify his arithmetic
Abilities was in essence an infallible attempt to count the
Twinkling gems of the universe.
Yet as he approached I could think of little else
Besides his smile, curtains peeling back on
Buckskin teeth dangling from black tar,
Coffee-stained stalactites, dripping with infestations of rot, ragged, ripe
Ruin, seeping through the tide of existence.
All he mouthed was tango as he sauntered
On tiptoes doing pirouettes in the still dark.
A master of seduction, the gentle swaying
Of his skeleton frame draped loosely with a khaki
Trench coat, reeled me, the dancing bait with which
He cast the line to my bereaved soul, caught with baited breath.
To engage him in his own game was certain death,
Yet every door flung open with usherings of uttered,
Ill-tempered magnanimous yearnings.
I followed where my feet led
And before the last alley cat's meow
Cut the silent night with a jagged yip
Of a chainsaw wedding, dangling limbs of leftover,
Rotten milk for the lunch lady maggots to spill
In Susan's diner on Grand street,
Where One-Eared Jim yelled at the mirror in spite,
I was dancing, illustratively billowing tears of joy
As my steel-toed shoes tapped telegrams of vibrant
Verisimilitude to the lying, deceitful figure in front of me.
His smile engulfed me in hypnotic splendor,
And the night urged its children to hush and
Tuck themselves in so that they may hear the somber
Scrapings of feet trapped in tango, shuffling up
The alley with the man who wore my face for a mask.