Fortune’s Unkempt Temple

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Contributor: Colin Dodds

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Because we are not born into nothingness
wherefrom trees
and cities grow around us,
the world begins on a bus
that takes us there.

This bus is delivering us
to desires that do us no good.

A catastrophically old woman
trembles to the bathroom at the rear.
Her wool hat reads: MILLENNIUM.
Chemicals and poo fill the air.

The movie on the bus is a comedy
about people obsessed with sex
long after it has any use for them.

Brakes hiss, squeal.
My friend and I establish ourselves
among the bus terminal cases.

If the busstation-casino hieroglyph
sums everything up for you,
then read no further.

I wake with my pockets full of money
and a deep feeling of fear.

My friend hits me
with the voodoo gibberish of an addict
about sixes and sevens ebbing after an ace,
flowing after two face cards,
trying to get his money back.

The tv is full of old people,
so I get some cold air.

In the daylight, the building’s inscription
dedicates it to:

At night, a motorized vulture
above the casino lobby says

The sight of all those
potential porkchops down there
makes my buzzard-stomach jump for joy.

There’s a deep perfumed stink on the wind
where the sea should be.

One day they made
too many seashell-covered jewelry boxes.
And the seashore became a swamp
of what people desired then discarded.

All the demure treasures of childhood
sit piled below signs that sing their worthlessness.
Pigeons walk the retail floors.

A glacier of sadness
cuts up the farms, the towns,
spearheads rivers to the sea
and demands that it be addressed.

On the boardwalk, that sadness is me.
And still I tell it
that I’m the wrong guy to talk to.
I can’t do anything.

Night falls, the bus nears,
nightmares ring in the air.
The weeks have put my situation
out of euphemism range.

The casino that gave my money
and the casino that took my money
continue to gleam against the sky.

It’s back home to the old bet—
the paycheck down on en vino veritas,
ending up drunk, broke and mistaken.

Men live in the lights I whiz past.
Remember that about the bus.

The mystical womb-defying bus
makes a cheap Odysseus of me.
It moves through the world
as if there were a way out
or a way in.

The movie on that bus
says God will buy you a donut
and help you do what you don’t want to do
one more grueling time
before you can finally forget
the whole affair forever.

The movie says heaven
is full of hunger for our lot.
And I will never doubt
the dexterity of desire.

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Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment – A Tragedy, was named a semi-finalist in 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poetry has appeared in more than ninety publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha.


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