I Shot Miss Cleo

I don't regret it.

It was nearing five in the morning.
It was the second week of January,
first snow of Winter.
I was planning to call in sick to work.
After a long time staring at the hulk flakes
plummet through the dim light of a street lamp
outside my window, I decided to watch some
television. What I really wanted to do
was phone someone. An ex-lover, friend,
relative, old enemy. It would be too cruel,
I thought, to wake any of them up, I do
have a conscience. I settled for paid programming
advertising a Time-Life collection of songs
from the Sixties. I think it was called
Malt Shop Memories or something just as goofy,
whatever the case it was almost enjoyable at five in the morning
but what I really wanted to do was call somebody.
Then a commercial came on for Miss Cleo's Psychic Hotline.
Truth, it said, learn the truth about your life.
The truth about anything would be refreshing, I figured,
but my own life - now that would be worth hearing.
I thought of a specific question to ask her, that's how I thought
these things worked. I have since forgotten what the question was.
"No, no, no," she said when I called,
"Your life is full of imbalance, you have strayed too far
"from the spiritual. You are irresponsible, lazy, self indulgent,
"unethical, unfeeling, antisocial, deranged, dangerous, a deadbeat,
"a degenerate, and you masturbate too much.
"Don't be surprised if you spend most of your life in jail. At least
"this is what my tarot cards tell me."
I was stunned. She hit the nail right on the head, and the hammer
was oversized and extra heavy. I was a believer all right,
but unlike the claims of the commercial
I was not completely satisfied, not satisfied in the least.
That I demanded.

I have lived in New York City my entire life.
I have grown defensive and vengeful.
I do not handle insults well, however accurate they may be.
So I made it my mission.

I called out from work for the next four days
and scoured the Internet for information.
Psychics, Psychic Hotlines, Miss Cleo, Miss Cleo's Psychic Hotline,
I typed into the computer, Seers, Mind Readers, Mystics,
Miss Cleo Miss Cleo Miss Cleo. Dumb bitch.
I found out that she was actually a Mrs. and her name wasn't Cleo.
I found out that she did not have a Jamaican accent.
I found out that she had spent time in jail, on several occasions.
I found out that there are many other psychic hotlines available
that charge much less than $4.99 per minute.
And then, finally, the needle in the haystack.
I found her true address.
The very next day I boarded a Greyhound to her city.
Once there, I took a Gypsy Cab to her street address.
I rang her doorbell and waited. It was Thursday afternoon,
quarter past two, sunny. What little traces of ice were left
on the sidewalks and hedges were slowly melting away.
A woman came to the door in a fuzzy pink bathrobe and I instantly
recognized her as Miss Cleo from the commercials
and Internet pictures.
Without a word, I shot her square in the face.
She dropped like a marionette cut loose from its puppeteer, like
driving snow on a windless day with nowhere to go but down
until it is caught callously by the hard ground, leaving the tenses
present and future for history's immeasurable graveyard.

I didn't regret it then and I don't regret it now.
She should have seen it coming.

Jason D Smith

If you've any comments on this poem, Jason D Smith would be pleased to hear from you.