portion of the artwork for Sean Farragher's poem

Serial Murder: Invisible Color Runs Its Race to Cops on the Job in NYC Poetry Reading Houses Above Fond Repute in 1975
Sean Farragher

In Memory of TV’s Law & Order

I watched every mystery show.
Want to know who finished up
words and oaths with
analog dimensions.

I cough. The streets of New York
fill with poetry thumping cops
beautiful like Sirens and pimps in porno theaters;
they undress their words and are
murdered deadly in poetry beyond 1975.

Black and blue distain peels minds rutting at the core.
We strut on the stage.
She read her poems
“I am on the job,” she said, and then questioned
my intentions.
Did I know any
of the poets who were murdered?

Hotels and restaurants complained
that bodies turned up in rooms and
at the best tables. It was not good
for boys downtown

Law and Order, she sang.
Of course,
I sucked inside her skin
fixed her silk to lips.

I would die as entrapment played
its predatory game. She loved me,
she said, even if I wasn’t on the job.

My Dear Woman loved when she
put the cuffs on my wrist and I gave
birth to our babies and of course
steps back and forth up and down
Ran between error and flaws in
every crystal made wholesome.

In the lukewarm end I was found not guilty
by reason of insanity. She told me
She said she fixed it like a Chicago cop
she rubbed my ticket and displayed
my core peeling the skin to circumcised
legal jargon, clichés and dirty play.

No one is free, she said
stretching her breasts
until proven guilty by poems
and drug maps of trees
of life and philosophy
drawn stick figures
of justice for all—
something like that.

She loved me and I her
as best we could consider
we were virtual and not
only a naked ritual dance
at the center of Columbus
Avenue at the Corner of God
and Universal wisdom tortured
as spies racing the Hudson.

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (Thurday, March 6, 1475–18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. All dates for 1475 are (OS) Julian calendar.

On Thursday, March 6, 1975 (NS), Michelangelo lived again to celebrate his 500th birthday on the recently gentrified Upper West Side of New York City. Artists and poets, musicians, and comics read, performed, and sang to renew and celebrate the sculptor and painter. The festival at Focus II Coffee House at 163 W. 74th Street continued in various forms private and public until Sunday, March 9, 1975.

War Babies performed various improvisational skits. The poet Joel Oppenheimer and more than fifty writers read their poetry and fiction. Readers and actors, musicians, and philosopher drug dealers celebrated.

The second weekend following the Michelangelo reading party the “mortal remains” of undercover policewoman Jane Simms were found by a building superintendent in a dumpster behind the bar Haney’s Bookstore at Columbus and 72nd Street. Officer Simms had been investigating the murders of four poets who had, during the past few years, been murdered after reading their work at Focus II.

John Haney, an early Elvis impersonator, was questioned by the police and released. Mr. Haney, claimed the police, had been “sleeping it off,” as they say, in a West Side park.

Facts and law would not match. No arrests. No convictions. Call it Murder’s Mask and roll credits. The case of the Poet Murders, as the New York Times called them, was closed in 2008 by the niece of the slain police officer, Detective Mary Simms, who participated as a member of NYC’s SVU “crime does not pay” squad.

Sean Farragher
Coordinator, Focus II Arts Center
September 1972–June 1976

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 27 | Law & Order Issue | Winter 2010