Ashleigh Young


My mother and father and I had been lost in the casino
in Reno for a long time now
so had taken to riding an elevator
between floors, between the neon stars
of slot machines, of American loss

when we were joined by a man with a hole
in his neck: an American, clearly, because
he held a cane tenderly, and because his body
resembled a set of golf clubs in a suit and because
I was not afraid until he tilted his leather face at us

and unzipped his eyes; or until the dark nest
in his neck began moving; or until his hands
slid from his cuffs and held his own throat
and a voice buzzed inside him. Then I was afraid

then our silence made a condemned building
of us all. A tremor went through my father’s flying hat
which he wore for he wished others to know
we were here for the air show.
We had been lost for a long time now

in the casino in Reno and there was not a one
of us who might assist this throatless man
for we were too busy taking the prize of him home:
in America are humans who have dark matter
inside them, who run on batteries, who speak

with the voice of Death’s personal computer. All down the years
I heard my father shouting ‘I’ve never heard anything like it’;
he was doing the voice, all down the years
the voice of the elderly gentleman who also
was lost in a casino in Reno.

Author’s Note


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