The Mystery of the Guttersnipe

Tonight, a poet died
Just above a sewer grate
Smelling of the gutter,
A whiskey bottle in his hand
A bullet in his pocket,
And a piano key hanging
from his neck
Swinging, sharp and flat
A needle in his arm,
His shoes untied and floating free,
His face bloated from rain,
And mottled, worn, and empty,
Washed into the gravel,
A playing card between
his thumb and index finger:
The King of Hearts.

A scarlet notebook, wet and ruined,
Was tucked into his breast pocket,
Tied shut for none to see,
And filled with shorthand stories,
and sketches,
Obscure, illegible, and somehow
I was an intruder into
this dead man's mind,
and so, with sorrow,
I closed the book,
And set out with one thought:
Who has killed the poet?

The singer-songwriter was last
to see the poet alive and well,
and so I besieged him with
a myriad of questions:
How did you know him?
"He was my mentor."
Where were you last?
"The coffee shop."
What were you doing?
"Discussing his latest poem."
What was it about?
"His wife, the noblewoman."
And where was she?
"Dead, so very long ago."
I took my broad-brimmed hat,
My amber cane,
And my wired glasses,
And I vanished from the
singer's loft.

The publisher would take no blame,
He had only ever loved the poet
Royalties? That all was settled,
Money would not be a motive
His rounded jowls, raspy laugh,
His fattened pocketbook,
And his poster of the poet
Hanging ideally on the wall, he
Cannot, could not, won't believe
That the poet is truly dead!
But there was a hint of glee;
For now the poet's sales
would triple.

Dredged from the sewers,
Stinking of the refuse
of a city full of personas,
empty masks,
empty lives,
and among this trash and filth,
the poet's mode of death;
a pistol,
held only by one man--

Who has killed the poet?
Why, he has killed himself.