Meta Malone

The private dick has a case to solve
and he’s the one who’s writing this poem.
The name on the door reads Meta Malone.
Come in, the receptionist says. I’m already here.
He’s listening. He’s here. He’s working.
He’s had a few drinks. Loosened his tie.
Checks his gun, checks his poesy. Rosy?
Send her in. He’s better than “dame” but
he calls her the same. She stares. He stares.
How did you know I was a woman? she wonders.
Perfume, he rhymes. Meta Malone’s watching the time.
Meta Malone’s counting backward from nine.
Was a woman like this gave him the slip, see,
stripped him down, left him stiff for stiff drinks.
I’m not her. There’s no need for silence. I didn’t
say anything, he slurs. She talks, he takes notes,
he folds this poem and sticks it in the rim of his hat,
no, it’s his hat, the poesy’s his hat, see, he folded it
up nice, the right words are sticking
out: Meta Malone, P.I., they say. I charge by the hour,
extras too, you got that kind a dough? She has a secret
smile for him, no, a few hundred smackaroos, no,
a gun, no a way of back talking that he’s really
keen on, like all men back then said they took a shine
to, to a point, until they backhanded her, treating
her like street women and the cops not helping
him because they call him “John” behind his
back. In front of his face. Punching him in the face.
Still he got his man. Turned out she double-crossed
him. No triple-crossed. What slant rhymes with
crossed? Left him empty. Left him at the bar.
Left him with a scar. No, the villain gets the scar,
and the big house. Meta Malone says everyone has scars
and it’s like a slap to her face, not that he
condones violence against women, never did.
Never liked violence. Never liked it when it
visited him. Always, from when he was boy,
always from when he was in the military
and shooting at boys in the Great War
and came back as full of living as he
could get down to the bottom of every bottle.
Another crime in the wasteland. Another
fallen knight, dime store private dick. Meta
Malone, P.I. He slips the poem, the hat, into an envelope,
a box, and send it by post, by special delivery,
and how it ended up here, digital
and onscreen almost a century later? Meta
Malone’s pondering that, too, pondering
how come he types with Rosy’s ease, why the
TV’s on, why a jet blast overhead, and why
in his heart another dame is at the door. She doesn’t
like that kind of talk either. The mystery deepens.
Meta Malone’s no poet. Meta Malone’s got no crime to solve.
What words allude to “surreal” without giving away
the ghost?

#NaPoWriMo 2016 Day 19

Published by

Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), his (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).