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…Read the full bio
Issue 23 · November 2015
Table of contents
- From the editors
- Two Poems by F. J. Williams
- Imaginary Oceans
- Thessaloniki, Four AM
- Koinonia Farms
- Night Flight
- Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
- The Lounge Lizard
- Fear in Kenya
- Cretan Love Letter
- Two Poems by David Havird
- Yukon River Aurora
- Night Becomes Day Over the West
- Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m.
- Two poems by Anne Babson
- Postcard Prose
- Travel Notes