You have desire written everywhere
on small scraps of paper, clutched in a hand,
tucked away in a shirt pocket, as if not looking
were the same as knowing, the same as manifest
destiny pressed against a chest beating under pressed
cotton. We have all come here for something.
To bet on grey every race when they pull the horses out.
To bet on what we believe won't happen, but hope for
nonetheless. And language takes over as a sort of resonate claw,
a bear trap dressed in a pink silk blouse, and we stumble
into the sound as much as we stumble into the need
to move forward—quinella, trifecta, exacta, exactly
what we didn't realize we asked for when we gave prayer
another try in the bathroom this morning. And the trumpet,
the trumpet more than anything that moves something within,
the same way Taps played in the distance under a lonesome tree
becomes enough to make a small space inside quiver, even though,
even though we have been here before and tell ourselves
emotion is just another structure tugging away at our sad existence.
To love this. How not to love this. Asking the American
middle class not to gamble is like asking us
not to breathe, to place our small, tired hands
over our hearts as some young girl in white sequins
over-sings the national anthem to which at least one
old man in the crowd will weep. But listen. And they're off.
Into a space brown and wide open. The thunder of feet we sense
but can't hear from this distance. For a collective moment
the world stops breathing. And then. And then. And then the sound
of paper torn in half, the sound of trash cans and feet shuffling,
one last hope left unopened, still clinging to a crumpled hand.