Midnight Rendezvous, Philly

by Mike Allen

Truth be told, we picked her up in Wilmington.
She told us she could guide us to the Vet,
wheedle a deal to keep us from the nosebleeds and
perch us near El Comedulce and Penthouse Pat.

She handed me my wallet in the lobby
"You dropped this" as I ogled two-tone hair,
nose and navel rings, square jacket, scarlet smile.
My buddy whispered "Hooker!" in my ear.

I asked why she limped; her wince: "In these boots,
wouldn't you?" Smirking like an imp. My friend
guffawed, but mere salacious fascination didn't
explain her appeal; enigmas beneath, an open-ended

question. So we stowed her on our quest, exotica,
unspoken tension would we pay, if so
what would she do? She passed the crowded highway
miles with chatter, but I never seemed to know

what she just said, or the colors of her irises,
which I glimpsed, again, again, forgot, frowned at
my buddy, who nodded along as if nothing mattered.
"Phillies play the Cubs today. Sosa at the bat,"

he grinned as our Scheherezade announced the we
should take this exit coming up. Lo, and behold,
we descended into Philly, soon hopelessly lost
on streets crazy as scribbles. Her pout as we scolded:

"I used to know, like the back of my hand." She licked
there, like a cat. We asked a cop for directions but
somehow forgot as night fell. How many hours past
before we pulled up by the docks, scaffolds jutting

into the diamond sky above the Delaware,
black ships, mutant heads of leviathans,
watching as we drove. She told us how unseen
knives stabbed her feet, told how oceans

still call out to her, and she to them, as we
drove off the pier to meet her kith and kin,
our car filling fast with the flow of her chatter,
my buddy nodding along as if none of it mattered.

Mike Allen either writes too much poetry or not enough. He's been a publishing fool in the last few weeks, with his new anthology (Clockwork Phoenix: Norilana Books), his new poetry collection (The Journey to Kailash: Norilana Books), a dark fantasy novelette (Follow the Wounded One: Not One of Us) and the latest issue of his poetry zine (Mythic Delirium) all coming out within days of each other. He's grateful that the Queens of the Goblin Kingdom were willing to barter for this poem, which also appears in The Journey to Kailash; you can find more poems and more audio readings from the book here.

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