below the water, bone-bleached boys play
cards. each holds a hand scrubbed clean,
queens dissolved and floating, kings
with swords sheathed. it’s dark below.
only the cards show, white lamps in the hands
of stone angels. on occasional a shape passes
over the cards’ blankness—maybe a note
left explaining their wager—but it is always
only the shadows of boats thundering above.
when they pass it sounds like a fist
knocking on a wet door. and above that, cars
go about their lives, tossing coins off bridges
as if they’ll never have
to show their hands.
palamedes, god of dice. six faced child thrown
only to land snake eyes down in water. fortuna,
god of chance, who cast her lot only to hear
the child’s bones chatter across the night’s black
lawn. which caesar became the casino? caligula,
nero, tiberius? which pyramid? god of smoke
and watered down vodka. god of mirrors and god
of fathers dressed in bent coat hangers. god
of boys who stripped off their skin. god of closets
and plaster replicas of gods. god of weighted scales
and homes transformed into catapults. god,
why do you let some boys float and some go to mud?
soon as the boy’s body breaks
water, it’s divided into clay
poker chips. they drift like wet
leaves to the bottom of the world.
in the hospital
my parents bet
on my sex.
i’d come out
full of dead