110 By JOEL DIAS-PORTER THE BUKOWSKI IN YOU (after Terrance Hayes) When your last stack of chips gets shipped the other way, when your wallet gapes like the mouth of a two-coated man prone on a splintered park bench what else is there to do but stagger out and return to the shadows of an empty womb, then curl up like the last macaroni stuck to a paper plate? You sense even the women sweeping under the tables and trashing the last odors wouldn’t coax you into their dusty pans. The red deck, the blue deck, the shuffle machine, all reduce you to a darkness under the dealer’s manicured nails, his Rolex stopped to watch. Damn. Damn. Damn. Everything you touch stutters. You can’t remember what singing sounded like before the Ace of Hearts punctured your last lung, can’t feel your buddy tapping your shoulder asking “How much you down?” You remember the elevator ride to your room, 39 floors of sunk stomach before the white scowl of a towel spread across the bathroom floor. Suppose you were nothing but a hand towel in a $49 motel? Suppose you lived to lick beads of brightness from a working girl’s back, but all you had was parched lips and a swollen tongue? That’s why whiskey clings to the bottle, slight burn in the beginning, then oak smooth and polished as an expensive casket, that’s why when the last card turns, whatever you hear sounds like a bullet. More so if you dig digging in moist earth. Even more so, if you’re a not a gardener or a man in a straw hat wanding the beach for beeps. You’re addicted to the dance of the Blue deck, but also to the way the Red deck parts like a pair of painted lips. You’re addicted to to knowing that even a gypsy psychic can’t find your card first, no matter how far she follows a palm’s rugged grooves like wood grain. You’re addicted to knowing the cards love no one but the last hands to hold them. Is there anything sexier than the way desperation’s dress hugs her hips? Anything sexier than putting it all-in and having the moment Morse code thru your veins? That’s why you return, why you tease your chair to the table’s edge and post a blind bet, why you peel the corner of your hole cards like they’re prosperity’s last pair of good panties.