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Under the gaze of wide-headressed girls, magician billionaires, light-up screens and groping drunks, I suddenly see in Bally’s Casino a church. Heads bowed and mouths parted in worship to the slot-machine gods, the heavy husk of incense—or is it cannabis?— mingles divine in the never-off light. United, sniffing and sighing and smoking, eyes up and desperate: a clear congregation finding gospel in goggling. Men unwind themselves to altars of digital girls with double-digit dresses—

And so like monks kneeling together in supplication, the air sloshes thick with shared dreams. I thrift through the machines samely: some half-seen minor and half-seen ghost. Poets like us know that each life has been spun, arms swung to aching, a million times before. With sex and spirits we can all learn the etymology of vowels: how virtual sounds like virtuous after so many drinks. If I squint, I see in the prize Honda a mule; in each mouth, a womb accepting gifts. Prayer, too, is a form of gambling. Holy men love to bet on all these versions of desire, place communion chips in the hands of a higher chance. It always folds closed: fingernails pushing moon-curved crests into palms. Herod’s fist, a bettor’s frustration.

Both: deep-belly
lust emptied to
lottery hope.