Poems from Japan

Playing Pachinko

Flashes of afflatus
punctuate a torpid afternoon,
as row on row we line the aisles
and stare at nothing
with the guarded anonymity
of urinating men.

My thumb is on the lever,
moving almost imperceptibly,
as marbles rocket into space
and filter down
through obstacles designed
to keep the management in business.

The captive of a chain reaction
freed from craving by acceptance
of the preordained,
I decompose, am compromised,
incorporated by the convolutions
of this artificial universe.

But something breaks
the moment I let go.
The single thread
that holds the world in place is cut,
and once again I fall away
with all my individual needs exposed.

First published in Outposts.

Pachinko balls