Cibola 96


The playing board retracts
its four scaly feet,
its tail,
its wizened head.
The players face each other
across the circle:
the red-painted gambler sits in the east,
the black-painted gambler in the west.


Each blows on his fingers,
whispers into his fists.


They toss the two-
sided sticks: red
& red
& red.
Red’s opponent feels the sticks turning
in his hands even before the cast.
Red & red again.


Now deep in the red, Black forfeits
more than his shirt. More.


Stripped of rattles & feathers,
all his fetishes in
a muttering pile behind
his opponent’s back,
with his freedom now at stake,
what else can he put up?
No wife, no children–
I am all
I have left.


He removes his left arm
& sets it down by the pile.
Tosses the sticks:
red side up.
Removes his left leg. Red.
Right leg. Red.
Right arm. Red. Take off
your head.
red: your ribs,
your vital organs . . .

For more on the symbolism of black and red, see the notes to Cibola 52.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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