The Third Man

by Peter P. Jones

A zither,
foreign and persistent,
transports me to Vienna,
vibrates in my blood.

Harry Lime: smart, cynical, and dead.
Holly Martins, his best friend, shot him
for altering drugs, killing sick kids
as if they were rats in a sewer.
And that’s where Holly trapped him
as Harry tried to elude police,
his fingers sticking through a steel grate
like long, thick whiskers.

Anna, Harry’s lover,
pours a spoonful of dirt
onto his casket, no more,
then walks away
wearing judgment like a winter coat
to keep herself safe
from the world’s cold opinions.
She quick-steps through a present
she wishes to deny.

Holly and Major Calloway ride past her
as Calloway says,
“Be sensible, Martins,” but
Martins grabs his suitcase, gets out,
and leans against a weathered wagon.
He watches Anna
come toward him,
slowly filling the corner of his eye.

Anna’s right foot strikes harder than her left,
her body reflexively guarding her center
and all she has to keep
or give away.
She passes Holly without so much as glancing,
staring into a future as empty as the winter trees.

He lights a cigarette,
fills his chest with smoke and tosses the match
as far as he can.

Peter P. Jones and his wife Jane have lived in Asheville, North Carolina for just over a year. After a career in the music business, writing whenever he could, he’s now writing full time—fiction with his right hand and poetry with his left.

About The Third Man—This poem sprang from an ekphrasis class and was my attempt to capture the essence of the classic movie, The Third Man.