At the violet hour, a tent’s unexpected
shelter from constables and rain. Past doorway, beaded
threshold, the lacqueria, the ivory familiars...
She sat, eyes askance from my Smith & Wesson, unsheathed,
as if that gypsy woman had been waiting for me,
a calendar square, red-circled, a covenant due.
On her table a wicked pack of cards – semblable,
soeur sinistre, clairvoyante extraordinaire – “Look!”
she said. “Your past exhumed: The Lovers, once entwined, torn
by avarice and Fortune’s Wheel.” The candle flickered,
like a lost soul burning. “This your present, Hierophant.
Your torture runs for years. Seven Cups, this signifies
the evils you have tasted with your lips, too often.”
And of what was to come? – “The High Priestess, there she sits,
desirous of your soul, as yet unclaimed. And this is
the card penultimate, eyes bound with the gauze of pride –
Judgement.” I gaped. These cards, death-qualified jurymen
of a malignant trial where this my soul, my Jabez,
was all but forfeit. Her fingers stroked the final suit:
“And this is you.” My resolution startled, cried out,
but my choked voice could find no oratory fervor.
I raised my revolver as the sirens swirled outside.
The verdict thundered, and the bullet struck, a gavel –
On that card, emblazoned with my face – The Hanged Man.