“Portrait of a Smoking Lounge as Cave” by Jake Bailey

Smoke drapes itself
in the dark
like the stole of a preacher
who’s paid off God.
A deck of cards
gets shuffled.
The rhythm of the universe
weaves itself
into faces and numbers.
Cigars wink their ends
into flame, into electricity.
Who’s to say
what makes a moment.
Is it to be found
in the glow or graying
plumes reaching out
to caress absence
or air?
The deck gets dealt.
A paltry hand.
Chips smack themselves
onto tables.
Stakes higher
than ever
give rise to short intakes
of breath.
A shattering.
Of self.
Pieces collect on tables
meant for games.
Pieces stack themselves
into bats never knowing
flight. Wings only bear
bones long enough
to learn how a stole
wavers in the wind,
how the body
may or may not
awake from a cave.
Jake Bailey headshot of a man in glasses smoking a pipe

Jake Bailey is a schiZotypal experientialist with work in The American Journal of Poetry, Diode Poetry Journal, Palette Poetry, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Jake received his MFA from Antioch University, Los Angeles. He lives in Illinois with his wife and their three dogs. Find him on Twitter (@SaintJakeowitz) and at saintjakeowitz.xyz.

Featured Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash