“Whodunit” by Nels Hanson

Those brilliant sleuths – Miss Marple, Hercule
Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Father Brown and
army of their ilk – are criminals, true culprits,

serial, adding prodded victims to their resumes.
Polite, they arrive like plague and strangers die,
one, another, another, still more, crowding parks,

posh manors, deserted chapels. Method? Poison,
gunshot, old dagger, carving knife, plunge from
cliff or ocean liner, knitting needle, voodoo dart –

any convenient tool at hand for Svengali’s spirit
to seize, manipulate. Motives stir like seeds of
stories, increase until prideful geniuses reach a

climax of delight – tangled yarn they wove they
now majestically undo, pin crime on angry actor,
the vulnerable, fragile minded, close ready pawn.

Neurotics crack, agitated, turn manic by haunted
Evil Eye, God or Dr. Freud’s immortal superego
when homely guest with thirst for fresh foul play

appears, bad penny or new full moon. Instantly
all go mad, unnerved by random glance, straying
attention’s guise, mask of fatigue, sex geologic

indifference, loaded innuendo memory’s failure,
perhaps incipient dementia. Snake with no rattle
ready to strike, speech purr of lurking werewolf

and vampire’s élan, self-appointed heralds of law
solve murders they perpetrate, plume themselves
with deferential modesty, bereft of conscience as

Dr. Moriarty, hesitation of Lady Macbeth. Hands
clean as an uncle’s solicitor’s, their approach kills
like cholera while ghosts, mere figments of a cruel

detective’s moist dream, take the fall and masters
of deduction nod, smile mournfully that life is sad,
why can’t poor mortals ever learn? My watch says

it’s time to gather crisp bowler, lion-headed cane,
faded scarf or black umbrella, depart on delayed
vacation for luxurious resort where rich innocents

lacking any clue – but latent maniacs like all of us –
laugh and flirt, share cocktails as hearts start ticking,
each alarm clock set for the famous killer to arrive.

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