There is a thing they call Face,
It's as hard as glass,
As fragile as lace.
But in the wrong place,
A lack of Face,
Can kill you as surely as a lack of skin.
Respect is its noisier kin,
Rather less grace,
The same death at a whim.
Put both the same place?
The chance to avoid offence is slim.
But for those who live
Beyond the law,
The Face they maintain,
The Respect they can claw,
Is the only collateral they have for trade,
Where a man's life is worth less than his blade.
Yes, they trade in that criminal Underworld.
Drugs, weapons, even latter-day slaves,
And woven in the warp and weft,
Alias, fake I.D., identity theft.
Which is where another Underworld joins the show.
Vampires outlive their legal identity,
Werewolves at moonrise need somewhere to go.
Their unhuman skills are useful to some,
Can give a Boss kudos for those in the know.
Such a Boss travelled East for a Japanese deal,
Occidentally overconfident of getting his way,
Back at home he was such a big wheel.
He forgot or never learned,
The required politesse,
For hosts whose modern technical feudal formality,
Was offended by his lack of finesse.
A ninja contract? Hah!
His supernatural team could deal with martial arts.
But they had seen too many films,
With men in black silk pajamas playing bit parts.
On Sunday in parks and on bridges,
Japanese teenagers dress to be seen.
From Elvis clones by the thousand,
To a gothic lolita queen.
Her friends in their crinoline miniskirts,
Crowded with envy to giggle and view,
Her freshly signed modelling contract,
Her portfolio glossy and new.
The wind suddenly blew.
A bodyguard's reflex fended a print,
Before it hit the rain soaked ground.
Didn't notice a trivial paper cut,
He collapsed to the road without sound.
It was a moody black and white photo,
On old fashioned photographic stock.
Official cause of death,
Police analysed the paper,
But no toxins were found,
Just the expected nitrates and precipitated silver,
A bizarre misadventure all round.
A severe allergy to silver,
Accident, coincidence, was it?
But after the night shift bodyguard,
The Boss knew it was a hit.
The bodyguard suffered burns in a fire,
Caused by a faulty daylight spectrum lamp.
By now our criminal Boss,
Knew it was time to decamp.
The Boss took the next flight back to the West,
Just glad to be alive,
But his loss of Face caused a lack of Respect.
He did not long survive.
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