John Gartland

The Eye

Man, I’m an ex-Private Eye, I can strike a cool pose
while listening to others’ production-line prose,
self-published wunderkinds who believe their own hype,
burned-out actors on valium bogarting the mic,
tales of drug-hauls and bar girls and crooked police,
and hard-drinking dicks who’ve adopted the east.
Look! I‘m old-school detective, I’ve seen the whole bag,
Spillane-heads, in trench coats, Dash Hammett in drag.
Just a crime-writers’ gig, at the Mambo hotel,
but outside it’s for real, and they’re guilty as hell.

It’s a crime-writers’ gig, at the Mambo hotel,
where whorehounds had partied for fifty odd years.
But life, like a crime scene’s not all it appears;
the old cathouse is cabaret, now; it’s a fact,
and, under new management, the riskiest act,
would be squeezing the original mama san’s hand,
which once, like the anthem, could make a room stand,
and left a broad smile on the girls in the band,
at the Mambo Hotel.

Two floors of short-time ghosts,
a locked-up beauty shop, and dust;
now pulp writers rap about crime here,
and must shoot the fictional breeze on stage.
But, as the Eye on the case, I’ll cut to the chase,
the major heist is on the street,
and there’s fresh blood on the page.

Bent judges and psychopaths, hustlers and has-beens,
professional liars, Bangkok is a crime scene.
Hey, I was an Eye, wrestled crime for a living,
and still have a hunch for who’s making a killing.
The patriots and flag sniffers, feeling the force,
play patsy for billionaires, hit men, and punks,
they’ve closed down the city and cheered themselves hoarse,
till the tourists and hookers are packing their trunks.
Man, the hacks know the issue, but no one dares say;
destabilization is sent from upstairs,
since they can’t get joe public to vote the right way.
More generals than doormen, tear-gas everywhere,
there’s gold braid enough here to carpet a whorehouse,
gridlock on the streets, and a coup in the air.

Look, I’m just an Eye, with an odd tale to tell,
at a pulp writers’ gig at the Mambo Hotel.
But, outside? It’s for real, pal.
They’re guilty as hell.
You’d better believe it, they’re guilty as hell.

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