I concede it must have seemed
I’d slid my quarter
off the wooden counter upon
which, I admit, it must have seemed I’d placed
it, on a symbol painted there
to the same painted symbol on the plywood

Wheel of Chance. Cost a quarter
to bet on where the
arrowhead might land then, but I
understand it’s been raised up since to a
dollar a guess. I don’t know what
to say on the
weightlessness of paper; heft of quarters is

the best thing about having
pockets, and when a
quarter speaks for me I feel a
reckoning of my soul to the slot—but
there’s no slot here, just a board that
was something else
once, stenciled-over, and I can’t remember

now, was the arrow spinning
or the wheel itself,
what the symbols might have been or
meant—same as on a deck of cards, I think—
large, black hearts, red hearts, interspersed
with words like PAL
and SIS lettered to look like huge handwriting

that made them feel personal,
almost, as chance is
always almost personal, and
then partitioned further by more signs and
words and numbers that mean nothing
because they mean
so much, HON and LUV and MOM diminishing

by fractions into smaller
to land the point. The wheel affixed
to the rear wall of a temporary
booth without a door, so the man
who worked there must
have had to hop the counter to enter; he

paced the gulf between counter
and wheel using a
tool designed to clean a windshield
with to drag quarters into a gutter.
But what did he do with the rest
of that year when
summer ended? And the next year? And then his

life?       (You think life too big a
word here?       That I’m too
dramatic; anecdotal; too
pathetic?        Don't listen then.       And don’t touch
me.)       I don’t cheat
my customers,
he said, and won’t be cheated. As stated, though

I concede it must have seemed
I had recanted
my coin as the Wheel of Chance, or
was it the arrow, ground past what it must
have seemed I’d bet on—SON or DOE
I need to say again, I had not played it.

I was hovering above
what I was planning
to put my bet on in the next
round. I said so then, and now I’ve said so
now. Let it rest. Let’s go back to
bed. It was the
one time I have ever been taken for a

liar. On the other hand,
once asked—there was no
umpire to make the call—if a
glove that touched me touched me before my foot
reached home or after, I said I
was safe; I was
not safe.