the stark abasement and the bloodied pool
the blameless killer and the useful tool

the sharp invective and the diamond ring
the guileless hack and the expected thing

the carefree promise on the summer breeze
the words that will wound, the look that will freeze

the houses of lovebirds, streets full of laughs
weeds that grow over the brief epitaphs

the guarded gateways of the blue resort
the coded message and the smugglers’ port

perfumed profusion and the golden braids
how passions crumble and how memory fades

the handy blowtorch and the well-oiled rack
the scheduled tumor, the timed heart attack

the careful plotting and the flawless heist
the ones who got rich, the ones who got iced

the taut temptation and the cunning trap
the dance on a pole, the dance on a lap

the gilded prison and the vicious boar
the missing bullet and the evened score

the bitter potion and the feigned deceit
the champ, the victim, and the subtle cheat

the glaring defect and the hidden flaw
when no one listened and what no one saw

the pained perception and the tables turned
the quest abandoned and devotion spurned

the shattered proxy and the awkward dance
no need for planning, nothing left to chance

the sloppy murder and the teenage crush
the open question and the headlong rush

the severed finger in the forest glade
the louche detective and the ancient blade

the world of turnings in a broken mold
a tale perfected without being told

the soaking daydrink and the blinding sun
the tower signal and the scheming nun

the fiery phantom and the sham request
the empty coffin though you did your best

the borrowed meanings in a torrid space
the frantic efforts and the shackled lace

Jay Goldin works in academia and journalism. He has published poetry, fiction, film essays, book reviews, and photographs.