Scene of the Crime

By Peter O’Donovan

A worker appears just before your soirée,
a giant covered in mud and sweat-smell,
who placidly asks where you want the grave.
He won’t be turned away. He’s already been paid
over the phone by some mysterious figure.
You send him off to dig behind the willows
before the guests flit in and admire
your poorly secured rifle collection,
your recently sharpened knives,
your closets filled with elaborate disguises
and family secrets, barely concealed.

The guests mill about the salmon croquettes,
pass oblique glances and disrobe
between drinks, casually,
as though clothes were merely an interlude,
a short break for the flesh to rest itself,
while the waitstaff look on bored, stoic even.
Without your phone’s constant judgment, you breathe
relieved, you loosen up and criticize
the new regime, welfare recipients,
and your second-to-last lover, left for dead
and still a nag about it, won’t let it go.

The night winds on. Some disappearances.
A minor Party member makes a speech
on the need for greater transparency.
You dance to the old songs, those teenage dreams,
then fire a young waiter, capriciously.

The police arrive, but are easily bribed
with nothings, false promises of promotion.
The worker returns, smelling still stronger.
You refuse to leave, but are dragged out, pleading.
The guests applaud politely.


Peter O’Donovan is a scientist and writer living in Seattle. Originally from the Canadian prairies, O’Donovan received his doctorate from the University of Toronto, studying design aesthetics. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Atlanta Review, Orange Blossom Review, River Heron Review, Qwerty, Typehouse Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.

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