Blaise’s Place

“This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.”
………………………………………………….— Blaise Pascal, on his wager 

Blaise’s Place is on a sunset strip
that’s razor-straight through desert air.
Many cul de sacs veer from its hot black path
as it dies in a pass between mountains there,a-die
west, where the day goes down in a blaze

The road’s white line on the northern side
is lit with votive, flame-tipped wax
while on its south hot neon glows in glass tubes
glazing the way with pink veneer
as fountains spit from golden taps

The landscape reeks of myrrh & beer
on a highway set with a brilliant trap:
a bet to which Blaise alludes
and away from which the wary steer

A crooner’s song from a glittering stage
with the bells & whistles of dollar slots
mix in warps & wefts of a nameless loom
with Gregorian chants caught in gambler’s knots

—priests & players in cassocks and albs
or sequined shirts and denim pants

—Adidas shuffling under slick, chic suits,
and heads with miters or baseball caps

—flung water & booze from an aspergillum
dipped in a Byzantine polystyrene flask
dot ears, eyes and throbbing sternums
thirsting for the light in which wisdom basks

But Blaise, in Sophia’s chair
like a siren calling bettors there
throws a loaded die up against a wall
that runs from the floor into the air
past the moon past the sun
through the curl of space
and the end of time but
always ends back here
where gamblers grumble
and losers grouse
that the odds (by grace)
are always with the house

by Jim Culleny