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Poetry of Issue #7        Page 19

CHINATOWN
--after the Roman Polanski film

Snapping pictures of adulterers in the act is an honest living.
A fine living for fast on his feet, tailored, tough guy,
P.I. Jake Gittes. Smoke. Drink. Joke. And smile, smile, smile
your I’m-in-love-with-myself-so-you-should-be-too smile.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

High-class alabaster blonde mindfucker Mrs. Mulwray,
Ida whatever, Walt Disney’s mouse . . . Does it really matter
who hired you to snap shots of Mr. Mulwray with his mistress?
You got paid. It’s 30s boomtown L.A.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

Why take on venerated old tycoon Noah Cross?
A whale of a man. Creator of his own cash ocean.
That a man is old and made of money does not mean
he no longer needs more--
What are you, Jake, some kind of Red?

Why take on the L.A. Dept. of Water and Power?
The puny big-nosed refugee who blithely switchblade-sliced
your trespassing nose into bloody pulp with a single stroke,
he knows how life plays out in this world of ours.
Forget about the girl you couldn’t save in Chinatown.

What’s it to you if Noah Cross owns the water supply?

What’s it to you if Noah Cross rapes the ghostly 13-year-old
girl he sired raping his daughter, the recently widowed
Mrs. Mulwray?

Mrs. Mulwray is dead. Finely-chiseled face lawfully blown off.

Old Noah Cross. Gnarly and huge. A leafless tree.
Stiff boughs hang tangled over ghostly girl-child shoulders,
clutching her mute open mouth and a teensy naked knee.
Bone-girl. From behind. Reared into his rude trunk.

Cops saw. But only you could taste her sour yellow terror.

*First published in Skidrow Penthouse #10

  Ted Jonathan