"Reverse Noir"

by Bruce Lader

Reverse Noir

Pre-dawn glow, fleeing to the border
both realize they’ve been poisoned, fatally;
she slips hand in blouse, pulls Derringer,
keep driving and don’t try anything funny—
a roadblock, then blast of honk, headlights
barreling at them in the rain, he swerves
onto shoulder, precipice a stowaway.

Suspicions turn paranoid of ulterior motives
to eliminate the other, abscond with briefcase
containing antidote, possess a piece
of that elusive golden light, take it along
an unmapped road of shadowed entanglement,
a dream losers triumph, bask in a jackpot,
redeem blundered affairs, loves trifled.

If it weren’t a dangerous risk to trust an exile,
his dubious resources, her covert contacts,
they’d split the loot, wallow in happiness
at the husband’s expense in exotic settings
beyond the law, have a foolproof racket
devised on a nifty scheme with the traveler
whose lonely craving flesh duped him.

He wagered his last dollar she was hooked
all the way down when she had him
in her palm, took the enthralled pigeon
for a ride head over heels in a lair of hungry
promises, reneged with counterfeit talk,
the net of deceit dropped, every link
tightened on the drifter desperate for a job

in a town tyrannized by the husband,
a wire-pulling lothario jealous of the world,
aloof from the spell-binding woman
who endorses a deal with the wanderer,
treats him to a salad bar and movie,
sidles over in a bookshop, plants a seed
of intrigue that germinates a dilemma.

Embrace (Big Table Publishing, 2010)

brucelader's picture

Bruce Lader is the former director of Bridges Tutoring, an organization educating multicultural students. Currently he brings writers' groups together in the Raleigh area, gives readings in the NC Triad and appears widely on YouTube, local TV, radio, podcasts and international magazine sites. Poetry Foundation, Poets & Writers, New York Quarterly, and many other literary resources archive his work. Lader’s poetry is characterized by a humanistic world vision, psychological insight, ironic humor, and speculative imagination. His themes are the need for freedom, love, and social justice. Describing Landscapes of Longing, Kathryn Stripling Byer commented: “…a powerful, unsparing, and yet tender book about the realities of self and culture that have assailed us since the beginning of human time.” Kelly Cherry wrote of Fugitive Hope: ... " [the book] deepens, broadens, and sweetens, as a pastoral symphony might…. an astonishing journey, beautiful and hopeful.” Discovering Mortality was a finalist for the 2006 Brockman-Campbell Book Award. In addition to winning the 2010 Left Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition, he has received a writer’s residency from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation and numerous honoraria.

Last updated September 16, 2011