Jackpots and Gunshots

When we first met,
there were only flames.
There was heat and light,
and that lovely sunset
shade of yellow-orange—
but up close—up close
the world is just one fire.

One fire the train.
One fire the circus.
One fire the burning heart.
One fire.
We should have known.
We should’ve known that iron road.

Our small figures are blackened
coals glowing, fixed in their tracks
straight for the heart of the sun.

Is this what we’re supposed to be doing?

Breakfast was diesel fuel
and black tobacco, the cries
of virgins writhing
in our ears, and we’re still hungry
for sin. A drink to forget
does nothing for the hunger.

Our past tried to swear us to secrecy.
Let those years drift
in their weight of sorrows.
Let them forget
themselves, and
let us forget forgetting.

On that first night
there was a long table set
for us two little gnomes
and our many-hundred demons.
Each plate formed from the alluvium
of a century, storm-drifted in deep
under the foundations, and then shattered
to shape for each guest.

Here’s your fragment, your shard,
your mirror-edge, your warning.
Here’s your danger, your night service,
your thigh bruised purple.
Here’s your cold draft,
your warts, your swollen tongue,
your clumps of hair.
Here’s your plate—your history of plague.

A dirty band of men played a jazz fugue
as the servers emerged from a mirrored cabin.
A girl hauled her mattress
with a chain, while another collected
tears in a jar like tacks. A woman lay languid
and raw in a coffin overflowing with honey.

A nurse, falling out of her dress,
blood on her shins
from where she walked blind
into the thorns.
And our sister!
Somehow she escaped her prison,
chased by dog’s teeth across a yard of sticks
and bone, mud-soiled shoes,
jackpots and gunshots.

Each woman carried a smoking jug
of mezcal and a whip,
turning and cracking at the sirens
in the distance, a hog turning on the spit.

Finally one arrived and leaned
between us to make her offer.
In a hollow in her chest, carved
from the meat and circuitry,
the hydraulic hoses and close-fit tendons
left space for a side-scrolling sign.
Tiny white flowers fought at the edges,
and there in the corner was a key,
almost hidden by the sand.

and then she was singing

So fucking cute.

We stared at her tits,
thinking of what sick message
we could slip into her subconscious.
We kissed her neck and reached
to feel the weight of her flesh.
We saw her in black and white, stripped
and tied to a rail, high above the city.

Is this what we were supposed to be doing?

Wax pooled on the table
as the candles burnt down,
and then all the women were singing:

Dear sweet man of mine
I think you’ve got me wrong
When I said that it was love
What I meant was cigarettes and wine…

Now we’re breathing
together, and we leave the world
dreaming of dreaming, dreaming
of black coffee, dreaming
of bicycles—and then dreaming
of silence, dreaming of darkness,
and then,
only darkness.