Doktor Darker's Storage & Laundry

The lamp behind him veiled his face in shadow.
A Jugendstil desk kept visitors at bay.
He did not stand when I entered, or rose to go,
and sat mute, a grey patron at a tired play
listening to a plea for secrecy.

He raised his palm and cut me off. Young man,
I don’t care who your client is, or vhat he
does. I have to ask you only vun kvestion:
do you sell arms, or deal drugs, und I
don’t care vhat your answer is.

accounts, bearer bonds, bars of gold pried
from teeth perhaps, lie locked in vaults under
our feet, till need or death sends settlors or heirs
to exhume them from the launderer upstairs.

("Doktor Darker's Storage & Laundry" appeared in PN Review, January-February 2015.)