Off-track Betting

Off-track betting
A boombox and a flugelhorn
A rent-a-cop with a black eye
Too dumb to steal, anyways.
Doors open on the left.

Off-track betting
The only ones who speak
Are the crazies, and the out-of-towners
I can tell you are real, though…
What’s your sign?

Off-track betting
Ask the audience!
Phone a friend!
What did people do in waiting rooms
and trains,
before?

Entertain me.

Off-track betting
That the house of cards won’t crumble
That the rails won’t rust and crack
That the bodies will sink deeper
and deeper.

You’ve seen some bad shit, man!
You’ve met some bad apples.
But you just get nicer and nicer…
Why?
Others harden.
They melt.
They jump out the fire escape
without pulling the alarm.

Why?

You cross the tracks and flip the switch
Dancing cheek to concrete
Faces growing fuzzy and strange, very strange
Sounds growing dull and sad
But no red blood spills out
on the street.

You watch the world’s events
roll by on an assembly line
Infinite, unstoppable
Slow, ugly and loud (so loud)
And you become almost
accustomed.

Robot arms:
Greed, hatred,
death, and Sleep
retrieve each piece
with metal fingers
Place them one by one
(slowly, very slowly)
in a Great Pyramid,
an altar to Nothing,
growing ever outward,
crushing entire forests
and blocking the sun.

Beauty lies alive, inside
Dying of loneliness
or starvation
She is muffled,
hard to hear.
Deprived of oxygen
she waits.

You’re late. You sprint for the train. Not run, sprint. A man laughs. “Go, girl!” You slap your hand on the doors just when their rubber edges touch. You prepare to accept the situation, forgo frustration, eschew disappointment. A familiar face flashes before your eyes. Then the doors open back up, for about one second. Someone must have gotten stuck at the other end. Maybe the conductor saw.

You hop on.


 

sumedh.jpgFor Sumedh Joshi, a brilliant man.

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