Subject to all attentions, Queen of Coins,Creates her court in nervous, light-stabbed dark;
Gathers the still-faced from an arras of noise,
Robber barons with quick hands and no talk.
Takes all comers at brag or dice, a shrewdLook to the eye, weighing chances. Scoops beer,
Ash, cellophane, plus winnings, in a broad
Sweep to her side; leads new stakes from her sour
Morass of shillings. Red with sweat she sendsThem higher, sensing the hunt which pulls words
Short, involves a chasing eye, expert hands –
Imminent victim – tracking the splayed cards.
Nights now have been like this: a cigarette,Replenished pint of lager, unwashed hair
Pulled by a band in fingers on her neck,
Something from a bottle: her eyes are clear.
Like a white creature she grounds in sallowSheets; creeps to life when the pointed demands
Of day have been evaded, head below
The nightline, face like ash and back in funds.
Beyond me, she skids around, more adept(Her eyes are clear) as fear and the bright light
Push deeper. Forensic, I trim and cut,
Raking the ashes of a life for content,
Some human fragment. Her switchback stuporLifts across moments; ambiguous, I stand
By fruit-machines and play a coin for her –
A joker, cherries, giving no dividend.
====================© circa 1973-76