Feel that gnaw? Your body’s sweet to the dark vermin today,
their main course in an all-you-can-eat free buffet open 24/7
so you have to wonder how much weight will you lose this time,
sickness ordering shots from a cocktail waitress, jangling money
in your face, knows power is a winner’s game. You lose your chips
but it’s part of the deal, all these people stepping around the mess
as you lay beating on the steam-cleaned floor. Where’s the fucking
emergency door? You ask me how I got so smart, well I ordered room
service two months ago – do you think they let me laze about waiting?
Life is full of spectacle, you must learn to love bloodshot so you can
look yourself in the eye. I learned long ago that gambling’s about fear
and innocence, odds are you’re not the worst off in the room, but still
when the cleaners come they breathe into their collars, the stench
like nothing they’ve ever known: call it vermin belch. Busted.
Heather Taylor-Johnson is an American Australian writer. Her latest books are the novel Jean Harley was Here and the poetry collection Meanwhile, the Oak, as well as Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain, which she edited. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the J M Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.