Amanda C. Brainerd
All Sorts of Gambles
By Annmarie Lockhart
Weather, winning, and writing are the basic components
of a particular kind of trifecta won in all sorts of gambles.
Vegas is one thing. That ring of snow-globe mountains,
frosted and jagged, so close you can steal a lick of vanilla
with your fingers (red glitter dipped in glamor, of course).
Roller coasters running on cocktails, lions, tigers,
and bears–oh my! The King is king and tribute bands
play eulogies. New lives begin with drive-thru weddings
or drive-thru divorces, both bought with t-shirts, mood
rings, and tequila. Delicacies, spectacles, and riffraff.
Feel the pulse, the grasping heartbeat of the collective
striver, the true tide in the sea of American history.
Listen to the first lines of 1000 stories still to be written,
hope against hope that the last lines will not mostly be sad.
Stand-alone casinos, gaming resorts in promo speak,
they are a different animal altogether. Less glitter, less swag,
no opulence at all. Just veneer on a slot machine, a clanging
migraine of last dollars. Alcohol flows, but not for free and not
top shelf. This place will never slake the thirst of the desperate
with their polyester need, their peroxide greed, the worn-out
threads of half-dead hope. There are still 1000 stories here,
but 999 of them are the same faint flapping of fattened wings
against the ungilded cages of middled dreams.
There are all sorts of gambles, but the house never loses in the
cold light of a roulette night on a break-it-all reservation, a face-
lifted seashore, or the sand-whipped desert of cactus and carcass.
$10 tables and $10 hookers can be had in every shadowed
corner and every rocking wave of the wide betting world.