Las Vegas

Posted: May 18, 1993 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , ,

one
all these slot machines are screaming at me,
hurling forth these awful noises
like upright pinball machines amplified
and winking with infernally fueled lights,
glowering metal goblins hunkered in military rows.
zombies run them, magnetized to the pull-bars.
coin after coin after coin fed like morsels
to squat and greedy quadripalegics
to be digested in square stomachs,
vomited occasionally into aluminum bins designed
to deluge the immediate area with tinny sound.
the only chairs in Vegas are the stools in front of slots,
the seats around the tables and the high chairs at the bars.
there they go – horrible shrieks and sirens,
running dark-suited security guards
and the beaming house manager congratulating, congratulating
someone lucky enough to give a slot the shits.
night and day rows of rolling eyes and gaping mouths,
so many tiki idols to pray to with offerings of silver.
miracles, healings, wishes granted often enough to other people
to make you believe. over your shoulder,
someone with a wheelbarrow of quarters
is smiling smugly before she’s taxed,
so you turn to your personalized priest
and confess, confess, confess;
give your money to the Church of Las Vegas.

two
you are nothing without neon stripes
surrounded with millions of scarecrow lightbulbs.
it’s a neighborhood gone gaga with Christmas lights;
the competition is too apparent, so flashy –
each hotel, forty floors of cement and steel supermodel,
the strip a catwalk for these gaudy flamingos
belching forth the illusions of winners,
fireworking electrical energy through millions of neon lacerations,
igniting the sky with an unnatural aurora.
each casino like a sick-to-its-stomach smiling Buddha,
pulling people in through its gilded belly-button
to explore the convolutions of intestines packed
with other gaping gamblers praying and dazed,
being digested in the bowels of Las Vegas.
the streets are the most wholesome places of normalcy;
there the garbage isn’t hidden, or snatched up
by a look-quickly-both-ways costumed employee
with a silver handled scooper and a platinum broom,
a golden smile tacked on like a nametag –
part of the uniform – in the streets
the honking of cars is sanity;
the people who live from their shopping carts are sane
because they have no money to spend.
these streets are thronged every night,
poverty illuminated by the neon lights.

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