Jane Doe #2”

by Don Thompson

Under a dim, voyeur’s moon,

just enough light

to see and not be seen—

light by which someone watched her

perch on one leg like a night heron,

booze wobbly,

shaking a pebble from her shoe.

Silver spike heels, little black dress

and pearls dangling—

miniature moons in the moonglow.

Parking lot behind a club,

no neon back there and no one else

except him,

hidden close to the Beamer

he knew would be hers…


In fact, she’d dressed down

in loose sweats

manufactured to sag

in some Indonesian sweatshop—

sagging herself.

And under that moon, synced

to his obsession if not much else was,

stood watch

as she dawdled along the path

among trees with their backs turned,

heavy and light-speckled

in Renoir’s manner, distracted

by who knows what loneliness,

domestic drama

playing in her mind for the hundredth time,

or what innocuous fantasies

of her own.

Maybe even unanswered—unanswerable

prayers for someone consistent 

for once,

a man with paycheck stubs

and gas in the tank.

For once unlike herself:

a girl whose skeletal remains

would be found (no surprise)

next to unmatched socks.

He might’ve let her pass

as unappealing

and with her sluggish demeanor,

not likely to fight back,

spoiling the fun—

if not for the pearls worn with sweats

(and who can say why)

that doomed her, ending up

scattered in the moonlight.


Merely a  trite detail, nuisance

for the cop assigned to collect,

number each one

and pencil-dot its position

on a sketchy map.

Map and pearls bagged,

warehoused and forgotten now.

Not real, of course, nor cultured:

no oysters involved

any more than love in the gift.

But how fake?

Heft, illusory luster or sheen,

misshapen with nicks like fish bites?

Majorica?  No…

just slick, insubstantial plastic,

milk white and unconvincing.

An insult she cherished.


None of us would wish that bust

on our worst enemy—

such an unlovely and lumpy

clay speculation.

Unveiled at a press conference,

all shrugs and double-talk,

brass in striped pants blathering

about justice

while she stared—flat affect

with no one’s nose

and lips like the forensic sculptor’s ex.

Useless anyhow without eye color

and only a wild surmise about hair—

a shopworn brownish wig, askew.

Caucasian could be anything

from Appalachian paste to suspect melanin.

And also useless,

that trinket necklace, faux pearls

cast before an authentic swine

who trotted off without bothering

to trample them.

Yes, but

someone somewhere should’ve flinched

seeing her earrings—

luckless horseshoe pendants

displayed so hopefully

on pierced ears.



Don Thompson has been publishing poetry for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Hoffer Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.