a rainy derby day
gives way
to an electric louisville evening
in the kingdom of kentucky

it’s gentlemen and princes called to court

the infield now muddy and trampled
by all the pretty horses

rose petals, dreams, and shattered illusions
of a southern sort

the race now over
the orb risen

she dances center stage for them
spot lit sparkling
hat pulled over her left eye
a fedora given to her by the devil himself

the sway of her hips
deciding the drummer’s beat
and the fascination of the crowd

when her number is over
she is approached by the coat check girl

the carrier pigeon sent
with a message in her padded palm
by the back corner booth occupant
of the barely green lamp lit
mahogany bar

she opens the black napkin
reading the words written in his
silver glowing spectral ink

“If I come any closer,
I will fall in love with you, my darling,
and believe me, you do not want that.
So here I will remain,
watching you through my curtain of smoke
each night
as this is the gentlest devotion
I have to offer…”

she swears for a moment
she felt a hand raise the back of her red dress

turning her eyes
to the void
she blows a kiss
then bows to the dead sea of seated sinners

filling the darkness and tables

saturday night
in the mint julep