Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under The Gun, Into The Muck

by Dennis Mahagin

Riding up front, so as not to feel 
so alone, you couldn't help but take 
the brunt of that Pakistani cabbie's 
citrus cologne; when he turned 
right from Spencer onto 
Tropicana, due west 
for the Strip, you reached 
for his adorable Elvis 
bobble head doll 
on the dashboard, 
with its sewing thimble 
braced on Lilliputian hip 
like a bucket 
for catching slots jackpots, 
and tiny topaz rosaries 'round the 
neck as bling; you had a sudden 
selfish thought that the thing 
might bring some luck, 
were you to brush it, 
like a lover 

with finger tips. 
THE BACK SEAT, BUDDY?" the pissed 
off Pakistani hackman said. Mere minutes 
later, in the MGM Grand getting killed 
at blackjack right off the bat, a ringing 
ensued in your cochlea; echolalia 
for the rail-thin 
blonde shill, ever 
abreast, and saying: "Whaddya 
mean I can't double down on a soft 
seventeen?... Whaddya mean, sir? 
Whaddya mean?" ... And your belt, 
forever a notch too tight, too tight, too 
tight, you walked out 
into the August night 
sticky and hot as you 
were not. 
Heading north 
for the Aladdin, 
pseudo pimps pressed 
their skin trade placards 
at the intractable mass 
your clenched fists made ... 
A particularly 
tubercular one said: "Nobody's holding 
a Nine Mil to your head, friend ...You got to 
relax if you wanna win. Take one. You will..." 
Six hours later, at Caesar's, you blew 
your last two hundred on video poker, 
the screen became 
a register 
for entropy -- 
flash frames 
that gave and then 
took away, gave and took 
away, with teaser hole cards 
built right into the matrix, chimerical 
as sine wave emanations from crossed 
knuckles, the tongue slot
humming when it sucked off 
twenties. You winced 
at the rail bird cries, erupting 
now and again from nearby craps 
tables when dice got hot, you thought 
of the high signs of escorts at taxi stands, 
frantic waves as though leaving town, going 
down on a riptide... Or the fellow 
you read about in Biloxi, Mississippi 
who let his life savings ride three times 
on riverboat roulette ( black ... black ... 
BLACK ) who would have earned a ton 
of friends, too -- if only 
he'd stopped at two 
spins, and there 
stood the buzz cut 
rent a cop, glaring 
with unreasonable hate 
as you backed away 
dead broke 
from the machines, daring you 
to slam your fist into a glass 
screen, to make a serviceable 
scene. You made it 
outside, to the parapet that bridged 
the Bellagio: you stood at the rail, spitting 
for an hour at the fountains that came on 
like a decade of dawns cascading 
in time lapse. 
In order to feel 
more alone, instead 
of walking home, you grabbed 
a city bus at Flamingo, and rode it 
to the hacienda framed by fourteen 
intransigent palms, dew-kissed 
in the dawn light. You wanted 
to tell those fronds 
how getting 
cleaned out 
is the purest facsimile 
of fugue, an inverse 
of all knee jerk terrors, 
and personal 
histories. Worse 
was how the tallest tree 
seemed to lean 
away, imperceptibly 
otherwise engaged, 
as if she'd only ever 
played percentages 
in the desert, 
thru a thousand 
rounds of black 
holes burning 
bright red 
clay right 
out of the day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment