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Self-Portrait in a Hollywood Car

Clay Matthews

Beginning with the end of righteousness
and I put my money in another slot
machine and give the go a whirl while
in a far corner someone is winning
their religion back. Tunica, Mississippi,
Sam’s Town Casino, and oxygen for all
of us thirsty little people. If you take away
the desert from Vegas this is what you are
left with: better payoffs and the vagueness
of a much wetter metaphor. And across
the street or down the road the Everly Brothers
as always and everly keep on singing
those top twenty hits of the gone year,
while I mumble along and blow three times
on my chips for good luck. It’s morning
or evening or the in between but it doesn’t
matter because upstairs there’s a big beautiful
buffet serving prime rib and eggs all day.
And I’m walking around wondering if it is
wrong to pray for good fortune because
I’ve never really understood god’s stance
on this and if I tell myself I don’t really believe
in prayer does it make any difference anyway.
I’ll tell you what I do believe in, though:
free cocktails, losing money, and fine
automobiles. In the lobby they’ve got
the actual Batmobile and one of those Deloreans
from Back to the Future. And so I’m left
broke for the moment with the question
that has faced us since the beginning, I suppose:
should we try and save the world or just try
and save ourselves. Sometimes just nodding
and saying yes will get you through your entire
life. But what is a good life, lived goodly.
The questions come more often when I’m tired.
Sometimes by saving the world you can also
save yourself. But then you have to look
in the mirrors that line the lobby walls,
and watch the people behind you going in
and heading out, and ask yourself if you are
cut out for this sort of thing, or if the world
is even worth the saving, or do you feel
lucky, punk, well, do you? I walk into the bathroom
and splash a little water on my face, and wet
my hair down because in most cases I like
to make a good impression in public.
And yes the front door beckons as does
my own un-magical, un-technical friend
of a car. But the open floor calls me back
as does the feel of the water behind my ears,
and free coffee, better than you’d think,
and the bells and lights and tables one after
another, covered in their softest and finest green.

Clay Matthews

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