Monday, October 27, 2008

Certain Elders

Speak in monotones,
love to mumble, gather
around the mahjong tables
all night, their gibberish
wafting past the thin curtains.

They keep to their own counsel,
check that principles are intact
and when, having had too much
to drink, or having lost a good sum
of money, they start to drone,

buzzing about politics and business,
how when they were younger,
they were so beautiful, so more
musical, more iambic. Like the beginning
of My Way—as if they have lost

their interest (and now, the end
is near…) but still they assemble back
to the gamble, grand shuffling of ivory,
wrecks of old postures recovered now
in the palming of an upturned flower.

Characters and numbers occupy their
newly-built piles. Continuous dull trochees
of order, scatter, order, scatter. Counting
later their collective losses, they fill in
the dead air with more Sinatra syllables

and ringing Blue Bayou choruses.