Catherine Daly



This soubrette dressed
in a slick silk Suzie Wong gown

slit to here,
sly even if her liner,
even if her glance slants,

affectedly sips souchong
through rouged lips.

The secret slips,
heavy like a body, dead weight,

important like a crime.
The city’s grime’s verisimilitude,

not supercilious,
not truth.



Genuflect, or just kneel. 
Deflect the bullet,


read the picture,
your former face.

Words beneath your gaze form a lit scene,
its pulpy cover

a clue, 
that which peers.



Order’s end, destiny,
song of a hundred useful things

toward chaos: picking up a drink,
matchbook, cigarette, ashtray.

There is no random sex murder.

Details exhibit edge, disorient, pervert
the plight of the frantic, maneuvering fiancée.

There is no irrelevant accident.

The mise-en-scène
subverts sordid revelation.

Nothing dies as slowly as a scene.



Catherine Daly is the author of DaDaDa (Salt Publishing, 2003) and the forthcoming Locket (Tupelo Press, 2004). She lives in Los Angeles and teaches literature, film, and writing. These poems are in a series called “Phonoi” after the personifications of murder in Greek mythology. The series of poems is contained in an unpublished poetry ms. entitled Dystopia.