The Cigarette Wheel: Seaside Heights, New Jersey, 1942
                                      For my mother
At pier’s end the coaster’s warped spine
silent, deserted against the night.  And black-
out curtains drawn along the boardwalk’s frenzied
stage—ruse intermission, as if the play
went on while the ocean checked its watch.
Her job: to heave the arrow, call a number,
underhand toss the cartons to winners.
out there in the darkness U-Boats hoped
to draw their beads on freighter shapes against
escaping light.  Beneath her feet, determined
detonations, a chill between the planks
as pylons gutted breakers, people around her
hammering fists while the metal claw buzzed,
slowed to ticking, trapped between the pegs.
Copyright © 2004–2023 Memorious