Mary Christine Delea is the author of The Skeleton Holding Up the Sky (Main Street Rag Press), 3 chapbooks, and numerous publications in journals and anthologies. She has a Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing and is a former university professor. Her website is mchristinedelea.com; it includes a blog where she posts writing prompts on Sundays and poems she loves every Wednesday and Sunday.
Pushcart Nominee 2023
Ode to Long Shots
I am betting on the heat.
Once coins start melting in pockets,
no earthly prayer can make the angels stay and fight.
I hear Heaven help us being whispered as tiny bells tinkle
in breezes that do nothing but bring more heat.
I need to find some air conditioning.
I need to find a cushy seat in a casino with a loose machine.
My body feels lighter when it is cool and my brain
chills with the high of a win. I worry for the desert:
its pinyons, star thistles, chollas, and saguaros. So many
little lives depend on the survival of those plants,
but we all require a break. Some water. Heaven help us
swims through the heat-haze up the Strip and downtown,
at the machines tight in gas station corners,
attached to walls in neighborhood bars, and cramped
between postcards and stimulants in neighborhood markets.
All the places angels cannot be found. I wander the city,
money hot on my mind, my luck as heavy as funeral grief.
I wonder how to get guidance from beings who are
as elusive as my winning a jackpot large enough
to change everything about my scorched life.