Buy the tickets,
then dig from your pocket
the lucky quarter minted
the year you were born.
Rub the gray parts, trade
any winning tickets in
for new ones, repeat
until you win no more.
Having scratched the itch
you wipe the blood
from your wallet
and head for home.
On the way you feel the tug
of the bar and stop for one, then two.
This whisky tastes like your own blood
as it stops the tickle within for a moment.
The air here is full of karaoke,
a night of allergen songs,
happy people who somehow
aren’t scratching. You hope
that joy is contagious
but as your skin is getting anxious,
home at last you go.
Which of the convenience store meals
in your fridge should you microwave?
Pull out that quarter one more time,
settle on the deadly burrito.
This is, of course, a pure contradiction
to all you know about your body.
You’re going to itch inside all night
if you eat this late, as you always do.
At least you are home,
bloody man, itchy bloody man.
You try to count what’s left in the wallet.
The denominations are so red
you’ll have to try again
when the bills are dry. It won’t matter
overnight that you don’t know;
you know that come morning,
it won’t be enough. They used to call it
death by a thousand cuts.
Now it’s just called being an American:
scratch and bleed from wallet to belly
to soul or to what replaced the soul
after you sold it while thinking the itch
would go away.