V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




They thought a little game might be nice,
an American version of Russian Roulette,
but no bullets in a pistol, only a wire-
mesh barrel, revolving slowly, filled
with ping-pong balls, tumbling, rolling,
every 30 seconds another ball falls out,
birth dates professionally printed, falling
into numbered slots. 
Like the Texas
lottery, only you win, you lose, and the only
thing you bet’s your life.  That’s how
the game works.  Only, they forgot
the props.  The big-bosomed woman
in the red, white and blue bikini.  She
was supposed to smile for the cameras,
read out the numbers could she count
that high.  That high—1, 2, 3, . . . 120
should have been okay.  120, you don’t
have to go, can have a party, celebrate,
drink beer, smoke grass, tell the government
to blow it out its ass, moon them all.

And they forgot to have a winner there,
like NBA draft day, lined up to grin
and walk up on the stage.  A real
killing for #1: all-expense-paid vacation
to the mysterious East, exotic women,
big game hunting.  They could have plastered
that on the walls, found a way to make
the day appeal to everyone, perhaps even
the players. 

       But it was a government
party: no props, no bimbos, just
a turning barrel, wire mesh, a voice
(perhaps Georgie Jessel’s?) calling
numbers, one by one, winners and

© by H. Palmer Hall



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