The Temptation of Desdemona Hendricks

                    Sinners pitying transgressions they fail
to make, haste to filthying any part
their hesitation leaves to be stained, fate
a taunting tease temptation to her heart
takes, faking love to bide time as she breaks
flesh to taste spirits, biting men with dark

                    lips inner cities ignite, side streets dark
until headlights spark red what matches fail
to strike-up: small-talk hot enough to part
those crimson pillows on which rest their fate;
her mouth a cigarette burn where her heart
should be, a hole speaking of homes she breaks.

                    As dull men speed from full-figured wives—brakes
slammed as they put on airs, posturing dark
personæ designed to allure, but fail—
her miserable suitors play their parts
she deals, hands akimbo as she steers fate,
staring them down as she lays bare each heart

                    on which she stakes her trade, her own black heart
long ago changed to a spade, dirt it breaks
no deeper than the Self she creates; dark
flowers paint sweeter poisoned fruit looks fail
to warn against, what she cultivates part
of how Desdemona Hendricks sways fate.

                    My tenement house temptress before fate
changed paths and bade me shake off chains my heart
had let her wrap it in, her ginned breath breaks
as an empty bottle does when words dark
enough to obscure her own make them fail;
even demons cannot rewrite their part,

                    she learns as quickly as mortals do, part
of the problem that were she tempting fate,
this seductress would obviate her heart,
she would reduce living to a play, break
lines of which she longs to be a part—dark
husbandry a lost art ancestors fail

                    to impart to daughters they likewise fail
                    to instruct in what lovers want: what fate
                    crafts but women like Desdemona break.