Saturday, April 07, 2012

30 Days of the 5-2: A Month of Crime Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and crime has a place at the table once again, thanks to Gerald So.

Gerald assembled a list of bloggers, authors, and other persons of interest and asked each of us to write about a poem from The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly and pick a day to post our thoughts.

My choice was simple, because Randall Avilez's "Outlaw at Peace" combines the resignation and grim humor that makes real noir fiction so attractive with the simple but deep self-knowledge that characterizes some of the Westerns I've been reading recently. And, like much of the rawest noir, particularly the melodramas of the 1950s, Avilez's poem is narrated by a first-person protagonist whose forthrightness is inextricable from his less-admirable traits. He may be a bad guy, but he knows himself, his world, and his place in it.

Some crime writers muse at great length upon justice, law, and the differences between the two. Avilez wraps that up quickly: "I asked what exactly an outlaw was / they gave me vague answers." And the self-knowledge and blunt assessment of the world don't get more much concise than they do in Avilez's last two stanzas.

If you lack the time to lead a life that brings you to resignation, doom, and perfect insight, read a Gold Medal paperback. And if you don't have time for that, try "Outlaw at Peace."


when they asked me about the law
i told them i was an honest man
i swore on the bible but they did not care
life for them must be hollow

i asked what exactly an outlaw was
they gave me vague answers
i lit a cigarette not particularly worried
they read my sentence

a few years on drug possession, trafficking didn't stick
no one chokes on swallowed pride
the judge looked hard and mean
as i walked, i said, i regret nothing and god is forgiving

nobody tells a drug addict to be a drug addict
they just let him commit suicide in silence
and i liked that
slowly dying under blue skies

(Here's a full schedule for the 30 Days of the 5-2 Blog Tour.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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