PoetryIssue 23 | November 2015

The Lounge Lizard

by Ed Shacklee

Somewhere south of Venice, near a shrunken pyramid
where ancient boys are naughty but won’t tell you what they did,
a hotel room sarcophagus is opening its lid –

a plush retreat, designed to blind a man who’s seen it all,
whose sight might sore the eyes of folk who hope they won’t recall
five velvet Elvis paintings hanging slantwise on the wall;
and from this box of bonbons, like a black sheep on a binge,
a lizard in a leisure suit so busy leopards cringe
has slunk out like a junkie scrounging for a used syringe,

a polyester Lazarus where Christ is just a curse,
a limousine’s a plastic mask they’ve strapped onto a hearse,
and men seem livestock futures that have gone from bad to worse. 

His principles so facile they could trip a smoke alarm,
he craves a Disney castle, which is why he bet the farm.
The Knave of Clubs, in faded red, tattooed upon his arm,

his heart’s a baited mousetrap whose philosophy’s a rabbit; 
his love’s a pack of cigarettes, a furtive, nasty habit –
and should your lips still nurse a stub, he’s angling to nab it. 

His hair is oiled in shifting styles, but often in a mullet.
His shaky hand of friendship makes acquaintance with your wallet.
Unattended booze is prone to gargling his gullet.

His lush descent grows starker in the dark before a dawn
as false as pink flamingos stapled to your neighbor’s lawn,
for anything is going now that everything is gone.

The stale mirage of Vegas seems a con job aimed at rubes
where skin deep mirrors wink a lot and drinks are mostly cubes,
as shrink to fit tomorrows watch tonight go down the tubes.

Lizard, lizard, desert in a city parched by sin  
where one-armed bandits filch the chips and ships do not come in. 
His story, with no morals, is the house will always win.

About the author

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. His poems have appeared in Able Muse, Goreyesque, and Light, among other places. He recently visited Anacostia and Trinidad, and is working on a bestiary.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok