Kat Meads



They meet in Paris.
        The first of many clichés.

She is not a pretty woman but longs for a man to tell her so.
        Oh my children! Read history!
        What women have done/not done for men who called them pretty!

And if not pretty…?
        “Short.” “Frumpy." “Homely.” “Lipless.”
        A “dishwater blonde” with a “pointy” nose.

But gainfully employed!
        A Brooklyn-ite.

Un-married/un-attached, her social calendar hideously blank.
        No engagements to prevent her from leaving New York.
        No lover to beg her to stay.

       Is this to be another tale of another woman’s one-sided lust?

For the commonness, we apologize.
       For its harsh, cruel lesson, no apologies! Ever!

Can we agree? Neutrality is harder to achieve than passion, fury, fear, despair.
       (This tale will not be impartial.)

Even so, we pledge:
       to omit no act or fact reflecting badly on the woman
       (as well as the murdering cad).

Salute us, lads, for that fair-minded stab!
       Despite our female dispositions.
       Despite our womanly ways.

In Paris, Sylvia…
       (for we indulge in no fake IDs)

…and companion Ruby…
       (a friend with ulterior motives)

...dine as a trio.
       Their “tall,” “lean,” “muscular” companion speaks excellent English.
       Proposes long drives in the country.
       Pimps fine restaurants, finer wines.

Not really a Belgian, though.
       Or a student.
       Not even a Jacques.

Feeling confused?
       Our Sylvia is feeling mesmerized, enchanted, horny, seduced—
       penetrated by the charms of a “penetration agent.”

Reader, he married her.
       Come now! Surely you predicted?
       For if our Sylvia were merely a roll in the mud, a Parisian fling,
       she’d be no “catspaw” in a conspiracy of international proportion.
       Such high-level disgrace demands a wife.

In solidarity with duped women (whatever their politics),
       with sorrow for fleeting happiness (whatever its cause),
       we observe here a moment’s silence.

Moment done. Poor Syl!
       Wed to a flattering fraud.
       Wooed in Paris because her sis could enter a Blue House in Coyoacán.

Month upon month. In this country and that.
       Through absences sudden, mysterious, preposterous.
       Our Syl, none the wiser.

For an apron appliquéd “My Pretty,” the clues swept under the rug!
       Phantom offices. Peculiar friends.
       A mother-in-law who cursed The Old Man’s name.

Must we furnish more evidence of willful ignorance? Must we?
       Such a tiresome, discouraging list.

To Mexico, they go. In Mexico, they hover.
       Murder afoot.

You assume, as women, we will wax sentimental, tarry on incidentals.
       The first compound breach.
       The pre-kill visits.
       The fake manuscript.
       The Old Man and his caged rabbits.

Jacques-not-Jacques split open The Old Man’s skull.
       Why dwell?

We’d rather describe the weather.
       Night-ish skies at midday.
       An electrical storm’s flash, crackle, pop.
       Trees bent double by a wrathful gale.

In Mexico? In August?
       Children! Pay attention. This is not Mexico!
       This is the state of Sylvia Ageloff’s innards, the atmosphere of her soul.

For now she inescapably knows what she knows.
       Not wife, pawn.
       Not loved, maneuvered.

Like the dead exile, the prisoner/assassin has a bandaged head.
       (Though the second head still breathes.)

No jailhouse privacy for man and wife?
       No problem.
       Syl’s current desire requires enforcers.
“Jacques/Ramon, you fucking, lying bastard!”
       Does she squall that accusation?
       One can only hope.

“Oh my pretty, they made me do it! Mother made me!”

Ramón Mercader del Río must have forgotten his fairy tales:
       Pretty is as pretty does.
       “Kill him!” the catspaw screams.

       Reporters reported.
       Impartial strangers swore.
       The world was duly informed.

And said request?
       Was it honored? Applied?
       Oh my children!
       Read history!

Out of jail, out of the country,
       out of one marriage and into the next
       the lying, fucking bastard skipped.

But, say: what do you guess?
       Did Ramón Mercader,
       forgetful, arrogant, spiteful,
       in the throes of passion or service to the state
       dare resurrect his pretty lie/line?

If killing taught him nothing.

Kat Meads's work has appeared/is forthcoming in Gargoyle, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Hotel Amerika, and elsewhere.