you get me every time.
He calls himself the One-Night Karma Stand:
extend your suffering for lifetimes or an hour,
I’m your man, however long you choose
to dream of sleek dark hair, fingers plying
folds of your wet imagination. He takes
VISA, MC, all the major cards.
In return for your investment, he’ll warp
and distort you with grandiose plans, he will
feed you sweet plums of the literary kind, he
knows all the poets, the lovers of old, and
claims to be more than a few of them, returned.
I met One-Night on a flight from Marrakesh
to a secret location deep in the Carpathians.
We’d both been hired by a philanthropist
gun-runner whose cousin had once been
the king of Albania. Me, I was going
to read my poems; he, I had no clue.
I thought it was the brandy from Transnistrian
pears that was loosening the ties of my
tongue and my tunic; his eyes were tapenade,
black olives crushed, and though I’d been
cheerful with our knees nearly touching in
the small silver jet, there were thin, lightish
fingerlings of an unjudicious kind that were
wrapping around me in a cage of chain male.
I couldn’t stop staring while he stroked
tiny screens, tapping verses designed
to pull women of means to their knees,
begging, please, won’t you take me right
here and right now? You’re all that I’ve
wanted, I’ve known you before, my twin
soul, my beloved, blah-blah-blah—
The tablet that lay on the table
beside us was adding the dollars, the Euros
and yen that One-Night was earning by simply
pretending to love every woman who uploaded
their photos and tales of woe: how he hurt me
and left me, but you, my true lover, I know in my
soul by the way that your words make me feel
pure and whole that our future together is bound
to unfold, tell me, oh tell me, please tell me it’s so!
Soon, my sweetling, have patience, were
the words not of One-Night but his programmed
devices that saved him the trouble, and while
these poor women believed and mistook him
for someone sincere and devoted, he played
zombie games on a plasma TV and he smoked
primo gold from a hookah of crystal and he’d
glance now and then to me, unaccustomed to
hash, who was quickly diminishing…
Has anyone told you? You have beautiful—
The engines cut out before I could hear
which feature he’d chosen to dangle before
me. I reasoned he’d flipped an invisible
switch to make me believe we were
going to crash, and I’d thereby be
prone to leap into his arms
which I did, in the instant before
the attendant appeared to announce
that I needed to sit in my seat and to
fasten my belt, we were going to land
on Bulgarian treetops—not to worry
they’re dense and the locals weave
tents of a black goatish hair…
It would take me a lifetime of words
to describe what a man and a woman
can do to enjoy their last moments
alive while descending at speeds
we’re not built to survive.
We had our first fight in a Wallachian
ditch where proof of an afterlife came
in the form of unquenchable itch in places
that, dammit, no longer existed!
You did this! It’s your fault, you cretin!
Your armour of karma’s so heavy,
you pull us all down!
One-Night, he just listened
as he brushed himself off,
adjusting his trousers, he
gave a light cough. Behind
you, he said, take a look.
I turned like he told me and there
on a rise in faded blue denim were
a pair of man’s thighs attached to a
torso fully alive of the one I had
known all along would arrive.
But I’m not, I began,
when I noticed the itch I’d ascribed
to a state immaterial had turned out
to be something else, a remedial.
I was me, thank the stars, fully me!
The two men shook hands:
One-Night Karma Stand and
the one I now shamelessly
call my Beloved.
Thank you, he said, to the annoying
dark stranger. I know she’s a handful,
I hope that she didn’t…
Not at all, replied One-Night, who
pulled out his smartphone and
stroked the small screen.
Whatever they meant, the two men,
in their secret exchange, I don’t know.
I’m just sharing the story for those of you
who might encounter the chance
for one night with One-Night,
big Karma’s last stand.
© Elaine Stirling 2013
Image from romaniadaciawordpress.com