Cibola 96

This entry is part 95 of 119 in the series Cibola



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.

Series Navigation← Cibola 95Cibola 97 →

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.