John Grey

 

10,000 Men     

So there you were,
in the Casino,
at the roulette wheel
with a stack of chips
in front of you
and, you said,
ten thousand men
looking over your shoulder
all breathless
from not knowing
what number you’d play next.

A martini sat one side of you,
a smoking cigarette
on the other.
20,000 eyes were on you.
20,0002, if you counted
the croupier
whose indifference,
you knew,
was just a mask.

You slipped a chip
on number 7.
You swear the room
let out one giant gasp.
Others placed their bets
but yours was the bet.

The croupier spun
the wheel in one direction,
the ball in the other,
two journeys
you were sure and certain
would converge
right where your
piece of light blue plastic
said they would.
10,000 men were certain
of the result.
They were in such awe of you.

So what if that
traitorous lump of silver
dropped into the 23 slot.
And a rake came out
of nowhere
and dragged your chips
into the casino’s swollen kitty.
That implement
didn’t round up
any of your 10,000 admirers.
They were there to witness
you lose your entire bank.
It wasn’t the luck they gravitated to.
It must have been the perfume.

You confessed later
that you were just exaggerating.
Maybe there was one,
maybe two guys
egging you on.
One was your husband,
the other your husband’s friend.
Still, if there had been 10,000
you had no doubt
where they’d have gathered,
how they would have behaved.
You’ve seen the movie.
You’ve read the book.
The common thread was you.

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

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