the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Robert Balun

Sun God

Wake up with your mouth all cut up,
must've been rolling razors around
your tongue and gums;
you can barely hold up
a cup of coffee.

And after you've finished
you're always ashamed of the disheveled state
you leave your napkins in. And outside leaving,
it's not so much the man reading about Jesus you consider,
but rather the tree he is beneath,
and maybe you should break bread,
maybe you should worship.


Winning and Losing in Atlantic City, USA

In the poker room at the Taj Mahal
the soothing click of gamblers doing chip tricks
echoes like water's cave drip, slowly
building stalactites in the chairs.
You can still smoke inside. The cherry embers color
the vaults in shapeless red shadow,
sconces expelling vitality.

Outside, on the edge of hope, the endless conveyance
of guests who have come to this place
moves past, while immobile me tarries,
another rock in the wave action that washes all the way to gold-rush California,
     over the boardwalk bandage,
     through the salt marshes waving and patient (confident they will outlast the highway),
     and on and on until the gnarled skyline gleams like a jagged can in the surf.



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