(for Laughlin, Nevada)
Strands of stale smoke leak
from half-pinched Camel straights,
permeate every pore and orifice
of the room, then contort their tendrils
into grey-suited pallbearers
thin as penny handles
levering customers into the decibels
that emanate from Hades’ latest machinery.
Patrons hoist their grimy glasses oozing
every viscosity alcohol has to offer
into the carpet, the table, the air.
Eyes stall at half-staff, are squinted
shut or open like a tribe of bushbabies
cast in the remake of Clockwork Orange.
Sweat-slicked coins and paper pass
from hand to hand till they convert
to chips the color of greed and gamblers’
greasy lies dressed up as jackpots’ best bouquets.
In the middling distance a familiar whirlwind
prepares to erase all this, leave what’s left
as it once was: red dust compressing itself
beside a savage river carrying its wild news
to the next horizon.