THE OLD IS DYING AND THE NEW CANNOT BE BORN

After Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”

I’m tired of waiting for you
to leave the casino— tired

of changing your oxygen tank
as you chain smoke

and stroke the slots,
hoping for a lucky pull.

O Daddy, why won’t you die right?
Waves rewrite the shorelines

yet even still you won’t let us go
free from your transient fathering.

Let go and let God, you’d say.
So do it, coward.

You built our house on a mass grave,
and I wonder:

of the corpses you collected,
blade sharpened on the Black Hills,

which haunts you the most:
de facto or de jure?

I’m sick of listening to you,
a CD skipping— the greatness of the old

days— delusions of a past
that never happened,

so sick of your perpetual surprise
at your own capacity for violence—
the Mississippi runs red as the Nile.

Go to it, draw up a cupful,
mark your door.

Daddy, the angel will not pass you by.



Caleb Nichols is a “writer” and lives in “California.” He tweets @seanickels.

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